No fewer than five of the Under-21 players in Borussia Dortmund's squad have been capped at full international level already. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
No fewer than five of the Under-21 players in Borussia Dortmund's squad have been capped at full international level already. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Borussia Dortmund's Under-21 stars

Borussia Dortmund is renowned as a club at which young players can flourish. Die Schwarzgelben finished third in the Bundesliga last season - defending a two-year undefeated home record in the process - as well as lifting the DFB Cup. Their average age? 25.

Ousmane Dembele, Christian Pulisic and Julian Weigl were among BVB's star performers - and the three combined for nearly 6,000 minutes despite still being eligible for Under-21 football. The Signal Iduna Park production line - which has also seen Nuri Sahin, Mario Götze and Mats Hummels emerge in recent years - makes the club an oasis for young talent.

New coach Peter Bosz, meanwhile, has succeeded Thomas Tuchel as coach having taken Ajax to the Europa League final with no fewer than six players who would have been eligible for this summer's European Under-21 Championship in Poland, which Germany won.

Watch: Take a closer look at BVB's up-and-coming stars

Has there ever been a better collection of youth players at one club? takes a closer look at 11 players set to shine for many years to come…

Dominik Reimann

Date of Birth: 18 June 1997

Position: Goalkeeper

Borussia Dortmund are well covered in the goalkeeping department with Romans Bürki and Weidenfeller in their ranks, but Reimann - who only turned 20 last month - has already shown the requisite desire in his short career to perhaps one day see the fall of the Roman empire at the Signal Iduna Park. After a shoulder injury that ruled him out for the majority of last season, Reimann returned to the Under-19 side, conceding just five goals in nine matches as BVB finished as runners up in that level's Bundesliga to Bayern Munich.

Dan-Axel Zagadou

Date of Birth: 3 June 1999

Position: Centre-back

Standing at a hulking six foot three tall, Zagadou doesn't so much run as glide, and he sailed through the vaunted French national youth set up in double-quick time, earning his first Under-17 cap just four months past his 16th birthday. Now the France Under-18 captain, Zagadou's natural left-footedness also gives him an unerring capacity to nick the toe off his normally right-footed attacking adversaries without fouling them. "We have complete faith in his abilities," said BVB sporting director Michael Zorc on signing the player from Paris Saint-Germain. The Dortmund faithful might well be saying the same in a matter of months.

Dzenis Burnic

Date of Birth: 22 May 1998

Position: Defensive midfielder/Centre-back

Renowned for his versatility and footballing intelligence, Burnic has been deployed across defence and midfield, and made his Dortmund debut as a late substitute against Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Champions League last October. The Germany youth international – who recently captained BVB to the U19 Bundesliga title – has been loaned out to Stuttgart for the 2017/18 season, but expect to see him back in Black-and-Yellow once he has grown accustomed to the demands of top-flight football.

Julian Weigl

Date of Birth: 8 September 1995

Position: Defensive midfielder

A quarter-back of a midfielder, describing Weigl as "defensive" fails to do him justice. When Toni Kroos - a FIFA World Cup winner with three Bundesliga titles and as many UEFA Champions Leagues to his name - says Weigl "is going to be a world class player", it's worth taking notice. The stats bear out Kroos' claim: Weigl overtook recently retired Bayern legend Xabi Alonso as the player with the most touches in a single Bundesliga game when he racked up 214 against Cologne in May 2016, and he finished the season just gone with an 89 per cent pass completion rate. Only a handful of players in world football's history - Xavi, Andrea Pirlo, Paul Scholes - have been able to dictate play from deep in the same way. Already a full Germany international, Weigl broke his ankle on the penultimate day of the previous campaign. Dortmund will be counting the days until he is back to full fitness.

Watch: compared Weigl and Dahoud when they went head to head in April

Mahmoud Dahoud

Date of Birth: 1 January 1996

Position: Central midfielder

Dahoud made his Bundesliga debut in a 3-1 win for Borussia Mönchengladbach over Dortmund in April 2015, and has been impressing on and off the pitch ever since, despite his tender years. "A classic street footballer who only wants to play football and nothing to do with all the 'ballyhoo'," according to Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl, Dahoud continues to model his game on substance over style. The Syrian-born midfielder covered a gut-busting 7.7 miles per game on average in 2016/17 - the fifth most in the division - whilst his range of distribution makes him an asset on the edge of either box. Now a European Under-21 champion with Germany, Dahoud is likely to slot straight into the BVB midfield after swapping Borussias in the summer.

Ousmane Dembele

Date of Birth: 15 May 1997

Position: Right winger

The Bundesliga Rookie of the Year, Dembele is already being talked about in "future World Player of the Year" terms, and on watching the prodigious French winger in action it isn't difficult to see why. Almost as fast with the ball as without it and utterly ambidextrous, Dembele laid on 20 assists in all competitions last season, plundering 10 goals of his own to boot. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended the Bundesliga campaign as the top scorer with 31 goals - nearly 40 per cent were laid on by Dembele. He enjoyed the most "would-be" assists in the league - gilt-edged chances subsequently missed - and attempted the most dribbles. Former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said on signing Dembele that the player "could do anything." It appears he wasn't wrong.

Watch: Dembele's dazzling Bundesliga campaign

Christian Pulisic

Date of Birth: 18 September 1998

Position: Attacking midfielder/Winger

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a nation gripped by football - the college and NFL variety - baseball and basketball, many of the best US soccer players to date have been goalkeepers - Brad Friedl, Kasey Keller and Tim Howard spring to mind. Make no mistake, though: this boy does his talking with his feet. Pulisic has already racked up multiple records in his short career. The USMNT's youngest ever scorer; the youngest foreign-born scorer in the Bundesliga; the youngest player with a brace in Germany's top flight - the list goes on. Five goals and nine assists in all competitions in 2016/17 were his best return to date, and if Marco Reus fails to shake off his injury worries convincingly, expect to see Pulisic thrust into the first-team spotlight even more next term.

Watch: Pulisic's Bundesliga goals in 2016/17

Emre Mor

Date of Birth: 24 July 1997

Position: Winger/attacking midfielder

The "Turkish Lionel Messi" whose first language is Danish? That's Emre Mor. His low centre of gravity - Mor stands at five feet five inches - and ability to keep the ball glued to his left foot are the basis for such comparisons, while his Copenhagen birth and upbringing are the reason he needed intensive Turkish lessons before starring for his parents' homeland at last summer's UEFA European Championship in France. "He's got so much speed in his feet," enthused Nordsjaelland coach Kasper Hjulmand, previously of Mainz. "Just when you expect him to pass, he makes another dribble instead and changes direction. And when he does that, you don't catch him - that's plain impossible." Mor only played 12 times in his maiden Bundesliga campaign, but having had a hand in a goal every 119 minutes, he'll be hopeful of more in 2017/18.

Jacob Bruun Larsen

Date of Birth: 19 September 1998

Position: Left winger

Bear in mind that Larsen's favourite position is out wide on reading this: the Dane has so far plundered 31 goals and 26 assists in 49 matches during his time with Dortmund's Under-19 team - the one which lost out to Bayern on penalties in the final of that age group's Bundesliga last term. Put another way, Larsen had a direct hand in a goal every 77 minutes he played at youth level. Little wonder, then, that he earned a place on the bench for Dortmund's Revierderby draw with Schalke in October days after chalking up an assist on his full debut, against Union Berlin in the DFB Cup.

Alexander Isak

Date of Birth: 21 September 1999

Position: Striker

Swedish: check. Striker: check. Comfortably more than six foot tall: check. The comparisons between Sweden's youngest ever scorer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are perhaps inevitable. Isak is some 18 years younger than his compatriot, so he has time on his side - not that he's needed much of it thus far. Already AIK Solna's youngest goal-getter, Isak was just 17 years, three months and 23 days old when he collected the same record at international level, scoring in Sweden's 6-0 win over Slovakia in January. Isak reportedly turned down Real Madrid to sign for Dortmund last winter. That faith was returned in kind with a contract tying him to the club until 2022.

Watch: Isak on signing for Dortmund ahead of a host of suitors:

Stuart Telford

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