They've already hit the ground running in Germany's top-flight, but with the 2018/19 season almost upon us, get ready to see teenage sensations David Otto, Ibrahima Konate, Franck Evina, Julius Kade and Sergio Gomez take their game to the next level.
Bundesliga appearances: 0
After the departures of Sandro Wagner to Bayern last winter and Mark Uth to Schalke this summer, Julian Nagelsmann will have to rethink his club’s setup in the final third for the coming season. Although Ishak Belfodil, freshly signed after a strong campaign with Werder Bremen, is expected to slot in next to Andrej Kramaric, Hoffenheim youth striker David Otto may prolong the club’s recent history of academy players taking the league by storm.
His 27 goals in 22 matches were impossible to match for any other forward in the U19 Bundesliga and made all the difference for Hoffenheim last season as the club topped the South/Southwest division over Bayern on account of a better goal difference. Otto, however, was already making waves in December of 2017 and the club rewarded their junior captain with his senior debut against Ludogorets in a UEFA Europa League group stage clash. A Bundesliga debut is certainly on the cards for the young striker in the coming season.
Club: RB Leipzig
Bundesliga appearances: 16
Despite his young age, this 19-year-old centre-back has already collected two seasons of professional experience in France and Germany. He made his senior debut for Sochaux in early 2017, quickly becoming a constant fixture for the French second division side aged only 17. Leipzig were dazzled by the 6’4” towering defender and lured the youngster to eastern Germany for the 2017/18 campaign. He was initially part of their youth setup, but quickly earned a spot in the first team.
After making his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 7 against Cologne, Konate established himself as an important squad player, featuring often for full matches throughout the season, especially towards the end of the campaign for a total of 16 league appearances and four of the club’s six UEFA Europa League bouts. Konate will face his second season in Germany with captain Willi Orban and fellow French youngster Dayot Upamecano as mentors.
Club: Bayern Munich
Bundesliga appearances: 2
Evina is one of the most precocious and exciting youngsters in Germany. Aged only 15, he helped Bayern clinch the 2016/17 U17 Bundesliga title for the first time in a decade, scoring 22 goals. Naturally, he was promoted to their U-19 squad last season, and his performances were strong enough to warrant a spot with the reserve team in the fourth division just a few months later, where he scored three goals and provided six assists.
After the first team clinched the 2017/18 league title, coach Jupp Heynckes decided to give some of Bayern’s most promising youngsters a taste of the Bundesliga with Evina at the forefront. The Germany U18 forward, who was born in Cameroon, made his professional debut on Matchday 32 against Eintracht Frankfurt and turned up for the Bavarian giants once more on Matchday 33 to face Cologne just a few months shy of turning 18. Expect more to come in the near future from Bayern’s fifth-youngest debutant ever.
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Hertha Berlin
Bundesliga appearances: 1
Hertha won the 2017/18 U19 Bundesliga title in no small part thanks to their versatile youngster Kade. Although his seven goals are more than impressive for someone who isn't a forward, his ability to pull the strings and direct play as an attacking, defensive or even wide midfielder is his most prized asset in his quest for a definitive breakthrough with the Old Lady’s first team having already cut his professional teeth at national and international level with the club.
Kade’s senior debut goes back to the 2016/17 season. On Matchday 27 against Borussia Mönchengladbach, he replaced Salomon Kalou in the 81st minute. Last season, the club chose to let him focus on the U19 championship, a wise decision in hindsight, and the youngster was only able to don the blue and white for the first team once against Östersund in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League. Competition for a starting place will be fierce for the youngster, but his ability to wear different hats might prove useful for coach Pal Dardai.
Position: Left winger
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Bundesliga appearances: 2
Dortmund's scouting department has an impeccable track record when it comes to finding the world-class stars of tomorrow before the rest of Europe’s elite clubs. Spanish playmaker Sergio Gomez might just prove to be their latest coup. A product of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, the midfielder rose to prominence with the Spanish U17 national team in 2017. In a span of only a few months, Gomez featured prominently for the junior La Roja en route to the European title and second place at that year’s World Cup before signing for Dortmund in January 2018.
Although he’s played more often on the left wing for Spain, Gomez is an all-round attacking threat who can use his accurate and powerful left foot for long and close range finishing, crossing or assisting his teammates from a deeper position. He collected two Bundesliga appearances last season for BVB as a late replacement for Marco Reus.