• Süle signs five-year deal with Bayern.
  • A mainstay for unbeaten Hoffenheim this season.
  • Likens himself to Jerome Boateng.

2016 was a breakout year for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim's Niklas Süle, but 2017 could be one of the most defining for the rising star.

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A mainstay in a Julian Nagelsmann side enjoying an unprecedented unbeaten start to the current campaign, the 21-year-old is now set to take the next step in a career brimming with potential after agreeing to join German record titleholders FC Bayern München in the summer.

Watch: Highlights as Hoffenheim extended their unbeaten start to the season to 16 matches on Matchday 16:

Record-breaker at an early age

Having come through Hoffenheim's academy, Süle has been a regular fixture in the Sinsheim side's first team ever since he became their youngest-ever debutant in May 2013. While there was a steep learning curve during his first full season in Germany's top flight, the centre-back's physical and athletic prowess was clear to see from the off even though his first steps as a footballer were in a more advanced role.

"I was a super striker really," the Olympic silver medallist told when asked about his impressive haul of 100 goals in a single season at youth level. "I cannot explain why (laughs). No, seriously, somehow the coaches gradually shifted me further back because of my size. And I have done quite well."

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Süle (1st.r) featured in all six games as Germany won silver at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. © gettyimages / Pedro Vilela

Honing his craft at Hoffenheim

In his three-and-a-half seasons with Hoffenheim, the Frankfurt native has developed from a rough-around-the-edges prospect to a polished and commanding presence at the heart of 1899's back line. Still someway off of his prime, Süle's ability to adapt and learn under head coaches with greatly contrasting philosophies is a quality that cannot be taught and one which will serve him well at "one of the best teams in the world".

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Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge referred to Süle's signing as "an investment into the future of Bayern", but that's not to say he cannot make an immediate impact next season given the fragility of the league leaders' centre-backs in the current campaign. Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Javier Martinez have all spent prolonged periods on the sidelines this season, meaning Süle's playing time may not be as limited as some expect it to be.

Watch: Süle scored the only goal of the game against Hertha Berlin on Matchday 9:

'Boateng is a similar type of player to me' 

Beyond that though, the German international brings a different set of qualities to the table. His willingness to carry the ball forward is reminiscent of Lucio, while the threat he poses in an opponent's box could be compared to Daniel van Buyten. Nevertheless, it is one of Bayern's current crop of centre-backs that Süle is most looking forward to working with.

"Boateng is, in my eyes, a similar type of player to me," Süle remarked in a recent interview with "He's someone I've studied a lot because he's already where I want to be." As of next season he will be able to study Boateng at a much closer proximity and, if his career continues to maintain it’s current trajectory, then Süle could well be considered the natural successor to his idol at both club and international level.

James Thorogood

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