The next generation of German footballers will always be closely watched but all the more so if a significant sum of money has already changed hands for your signature. That is the case with RB Leipzig attacking midfielder Elias Abouchabaka, who stood out at the UEFA Under-17 Championship in May.

Abouchabaka started out at Hertha Berlin, but when he was still only 15 he made the short trip south to Leipzig. What was notable about that switch in September 2015 was the reported transfer fee - €250,000 was a record in Germany for a player of that age.

"Elias is diligent, willing and very focused," Jörg Schwanke, who coached Abouchabaka at Hertha, told the Berliner Zeitung shortly after the teenager made his move.

"He’s a quick, dangerous left-footed player and strong in one-on-one situations. He can operate on both wings. Of course we would have liked to keep him."

Abouchabaka scored three goals and made two more at the European Under-17 Championship.
Abouchabaka scored three goals and made two more at the European Under-17 Championship. © gettyimages

It is easy to see why Abouchabaka was in demand. Being a left-footed number 10, he will inevitably draw comparisons with current Germany international Mesut Özil. But the Berlin native seems more direct, capable of driving runs from deep and providing a serious goal threat in his own right.

"Elias is definitely headed in the right direction – he’s made the next step," Christian Wück, Abouchabaka’s coach at international level, told the DFB website in February 2016.

"He can reach the highest level and has exceptional technical ability on the ball. He’s dealt with his change of clubs well."

Click here to read about another of the Germany Under-17 stars

In Leipzig, Abouchabaka has concentrated on finishing his secondary school education as well as his football. But in Croatia at the European Championship, we got plenty of glimpses of what the versatile attacker is all about.

Germany scored 15 goals and conceded one in three group matches, with Abouchabaka stroking home from the penalty spot for the opener in their second game against Serbia.

The youngster also got the first goal in a 7-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland. The way he arrived late to the edge of the box before caressing the ball first-time into the corner while under pressure will have got even more tongues wagging.

The former Hertha teenager was too hot to handle in Germany's thumping win over Republic of Ireland.
The former Hertha teenager was too hot to handle in Germany's thumping win over Republic of Ireland. © imago

A keen student of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, he showed a touch of class immediately after netting as well - ripping off a wristband to unveil a happy birthday message to his brother for the TV cameras.

Abouchabaka, who turned 17 in March, also laid on another goal in that game for free-scoring frontman Jann-Fiete Arp by providing a delicious chipped cross from the left.

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Playing in behind Arp and drifting across the pitch, he had a healthy habit of ghosting into the box unnoticed - a little like Frank Lampard used to. In the quarter-final against the Netherlands, that priceless talent resulted in him eventually getting Germany’s equaliser.

Abouchabaka and Arp were stifled by Spain in the semi-finals as Germany were knocked out on penalties, but Wück said that was part of the learning process for such youngsters.

As well as starring for Germany, Abouchabaka has found goals easy to come by for Leipzig's Under-17 team.
As well as starring for Germany, Abouchabaka has found goals easy to come by for Leipzig's Under-17 team. © gettyimages

So how soon will we see the generation of German players born in 2000 make their breakthrough in the Bundesliga? Wück, who described the current crop as the strongest attacking group he had worked with, thinks it is only a matter of time.

"From the squad born in 1998, among others, Dortmund's Felix Passlack and Bremen's Johannes Eggestein are a couple of players who have already arrived in the Bundesliga," Wück told kicker after his side exited the tournament.

"In another 18 months at the latest, at least one of the 2000 squad will also get a taste of the top flight."

It is reasonable to assume that since he has already made one big-money move, Abouchabaka is one of the likely candidates to push on. Schwanke, the Hertha youth coach, said he was the type of young player that Leipzig target – fast and athletic. Can Abouchabaka follow in the footsteps of Timo Werner, Naby Keita and company? We might not have to wait too long for the answer.

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