The 30 Youngest Players in Bundesliga History

Nov 22, 2020, 9:15 PM GMT
Youssoufa Moukoko
Youssoufa Moukoko is now the youngest player in Bundesliga history | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

If you tune into the Bundesliga on any given weekend, you'll see a lot of weird and wonderful things, from flying forward lines, to crafty ball-playing centre-backs in almost every side, to some of the more...interesting defensive lines in global football.

But overwhelmingly, one thing stands out about the German top flight in 2020, and that is youth - both in a ridiculously stacked Borussia Dortmund side which churns out Golden Boy candidates on a seemingly weekly basis, and elsewhere in the league, from where the likes of Kai Havertz and Luka Jovic have made big-money moves to super clubs across the continent.

Luka Jovic
Jovic's form as a 20 year old for Eintracht Frankfurt attracted the attention of Real Madrid | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Now, in the same week that Erling Braut Haaland picked up the 2020 Golden Boy award, Dortmund have only gone and done it again, with highly-rated hotshot Youssoufa Moukoko celebrating his 16th birthday a day late by coming on as a substitute against Hertha BSC, and in doing so becoming the youngest player in Bundesliga history.

But who else is keeping Moukoko company on the list of German top-flight football's youngest stars? Well, I am so glad you asked, as 90min have made an exhaustive list to answer exactly that question...

30. Jonathan Tah (17 years, 6 months, 13 days)

Jonathan Tah
Tah will be looking for a spot in Germany's Euro 2021 squad | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

If it feels like the towering centre back has been around (and a prospect) literally since forever, that's because he more or less has been, having made his Hamburg debut alongside Rafa van der Vaart and a young Milan Badelj.

Now a 24-year-old on the fringes of the Germany squad, and perhaps a solution to Liverpool's current defensive dilemma...

29. Max Arnold (17 years, 5 months, 30 days)

Possessor of one of the sweetest left pegs in German football, Arnold made quite the splash when he broke through at Wolfsburg, but instead of moving on as many might have expected, he has stayed loyal to Die Wölfe, and is now close to 300 appearances for the club.

Also scored possibly the best free-kick of the last decade (see above).

28. Rudiger Abramczik (17 years, 5 months, 24 days)

Ruediger Abramczik
Abramczik managed to patch things up with Schalke, where he returned in the late 80s | TF-Images/Getty Images

In case you were wondering what the former Schalke youth product was known for, his amazing nickname was Flankengott (quite literally, 'God of Crosses').

Not only was he pretty handy at whipping one in, but he also did the unthinkable: crossing the Revierderby divide to join Schalke's bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund.

27. Franco Foda (17 years, 5 months, 22 days)

Look out for him next summer! | AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Foda had a very solid career as a player and is now an established manager, having had success with Sturm Graz, and becoming the first German to manage the Austria national side, with whom he will be going to Euro 2020 (in 2021).

However, the most amusing story about him is that he was given a raucous ovation by Brazilian fans on his debut for West Germany. Why? Because his surname apparently means 'f***' in Portuguese...

26. Antonis Aidonis (17 years, 5 months, 19 days)

Antonis Aidonis
Aidonis has been playing for Germany since U15 level | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

One to watch for the future this lad, who made his debut for Stuttgart in 2018. Has featured regularly in the German youth sides, and will perhaps be commanding the back four while Moukoko bangs them in up top at Euro 2028.

25. Mario Gotze (17 years, 5 months, 18 days)

Sergio Romero, Mario Goetze
He'll always have this moment | Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

It's impossible not to feel a little wistful when reading about this one...

Jurgen Low told Gotze to prove he was better than Messi in the 2014 World Cup final, and while that is a patently ridiculous thing to say on the face of it, the number ten was on top of the world after his extra-time winner.

Sadly, a mysterious metabolic disease got in the way when he should have been entering his prime, and one of the last decade's best wonderkids has now made a surprise move to PSV Eindhoven.

24. Dirk Drescher (17 years, 5 months, 13 days)

VfL Bochum 1848 v FC St. Pauli - Second Bundesliga
You try finding a picture of Drescher! This is VFL Bochum's lovely stadium | Frederic Scheidemann/Getty Images

Came on for VFL Bochum after the first-choice goalie got sent off, kept a clean sheet in a win, never made a Bundesliga appearance again. Moving swiftly on!

23. Timo Werner (17 years, 5 months, 11 days)

Andy Carroll (Newcastle), Timo Werner (Chelsea), Karl Darlow (Newcastle)
One of the Premier League's most exciting talents got his start at Stuttgart | MB Media/Getty Images

He misses the odd big chance, he has a reputation for struggling against set defences, he has a style of play that only a mother could love.

But if you can't handle him when he barely manages to touch the ball against Liverpool, you don't deserve him when he takes out three defenders on a lightning-fast break.

22. Max Meyer (17 years, 4 months, 29 days)

Max Meyer
Max Meyer showed immense promise while at Schalke but Hodgson has never been a fan | TF-Images/Getty Images

The year is 2030. Roy Hodgson has just picked a 43-year-old James McArthur for his 700th appearance at the club. A band of devoted fans are still replying 'What's the point of buying Meyer if you don't play him!!!' underneath the Crystal Palace lineup tweet.

21. Levin Oztunali (17 years, 4 months, 26 days)

Levin Oztunali, Edmond Tapsoba
This guy has played a LOT of youth football | Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Oztunali is one cap away from being the record appearance-holder for Germany's Under-21 side, and as Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Redmond could tell you, you ideally don't want to spend too much time at that level. Currently a regular in Mainz' midfield.

20. Marc-Andre Kruska (17 years, 4 months, 15 days)

Kruska making a typically robust challenge | MICHAEL GOTTSCHALK/Getty Images

A perfectly solid defensive midfielder who helped Borussia Dortmund finish as league runners up in 2008, the German youth international's last spell at the (sort of) top level was with Luxembourg's FC Dudelange in 2019, helping them reach the Europa League group stages.

19. Lennart Hartmann (17 years, 4 months, 14 days)

Jan Rosenthal, Chavdar Yankov, Lennart Haartmann
Hartmann getting involved in a pre-season friendly | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Hertha's youngest ever player didn't really stick around at the top level, and has been flitting around the lower echelons of German football, turning out for clubs with names like 'Tennis Borussian Berlin' - wrong sport, guys!

18. Christian Pulisic (17 years, 4 months, 12 days)

Harry Maguire, Christian Pulisic
DEFENCE, DEFENCE! | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Bro, this dude was mad stoked when Coach Tuchel put him in the roster against FC Ingolstadt 04 in 2016.

Drafted by Chelsea in 2019, the power forward is now one of the true franchise players in the Premier League, and guarantees you buckets and lots of hustle.

17. Christian Wuck (17 years, 4 months, 11 days)

Germany U17 v Spain U17 - Algarve Cup - Algarve 2020 International Tournament
Wuck now works for the German FA | Ricardo Nascimento/Getty Images

After a career which started at the age of 17 for FC Nuremberg, Wuck used his expertise in 'Being Extremely Young' to successfully apply for the head coach role for the German Under-16 side.

As an interesting aside, Wuck is the first professional footballer to have had his meniscus transplanted.

16. Kai Havertz (17 years, 4 months, 4 days)

Kai Havertz
A once-in-a-lifetime talent | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Havertz left Leverkusen as their 12th all-time top goalscorer at the age of 21, which is pretty good going whichever way you look at it.

So far in English football his name would only strike fear into the hearts of Barnsley fans, but he's looking more and more assured with each appearance.

15. Christian Worns (17 years, 3 months, 30 days)

Christian Woerns
Worns now also works within the national team youth set-up | Cathrin Mueller/Getty Images

One of the national team's all-time greats, Worns picked up 66 caps for Germany and a runners-up medal in that most fateful of final losses to Denmark in 1992. He made his debut for SV Waldhof Mannheim at the age of 17.

14. Marc Stendera (17 years, 3 months, 27 days)

Marc Stendera
Stendera is now with Ingolstadt | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Another man who still has a lot to give the game of football, Stendera started off his professional career with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2013. Like a lot of young players his potential was curtailed by injury - in his case, the dreaded ACL in the same year as his debut.

13. Julian Draxler (17 years, 3 months, 26 days)

Bundesliga - "Schalke 04 v VfB Stuttgart"
Draxler was a product of Schalke's academy | VI-Images/Getty Images

Just like Gotze, there were hopes that Julian Draxler could go to the very top of the game, but he's now something of a super sub (the nicest term I could find for 'squad player') at Paris Saint-Germain.

It's always worth remembering that he could be picking up inch-perfect diagonals from Kalvin Phillips and feeding through Paddy Bamford at Elland Road if things had gone a little differently last summer.

12. Jamal Musiala (17 years, 3 months, 25 days)

One of the newest kids on the block, and a man with a big decision to make when it comes to his international career.

Musiala has put the Bundesliga on notice after scoring twice already this season, and the man who was born in Stuttgart but educated in Croydon seems to have chosen England (for now) as the lucky recipients of his talents, having played for both sides at youth level.

11. Maximilian Beier (17 years, 3 months, 22 days)

Maximilian Beier
Beier has plenty of experience at U17 level | Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Yet another one for the future, Beier debuted for Hoffenheim this year, and the club have given the youngster a bumper contract lasting until 2024, such is their faith in his potential.

10. Simon Asta (17 years, 3 months, 17 days)

Simon Asta
The FM wonderkid joined Greuther Furth this summer | Oliver Hardt/Getty Images

I'm not kidding when I say that the Bundesliga is churning out ones to watch at an industrial rate now, and the top ten is littered with players who have very recently made their debut.

The full-back (who was the first player born in the 21st century to play in the Bundesliga) has accrued plenty of admirers since his 2018 debut for Augsburg, both in the real world and in the virtual world, where he is considered quite the acquisition on Football Manager.

9. Josha Vagnoman (17 years, 2 months, 27 days)

Josha Vagnoman
Coming soon to a Prem club near you? | Martin Rose/Getty Images

Yep, it's another guy from the late 2010s - another member of the class of 2018, to be exact.

An athletic, dominant full-back, Vagnoman is impressively mature given both his age and position (no offence full backs, but you do love flying down that wing), and interest from the Premier League is expected to be forthcoming given he's now playing in the 2. Bundesliga with Hamburg.

8. Jude Bellingham (17 years, 2 months, 21 days)

Jude Bellingham
Could he become an England regular? | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Eyebrows were raised recently when Gareth Southgate had the temerity to pick a guy who was featuring regularly for a title-challenging side who also play in the Champions League, rather than Ross Barkley, but the early indications are that Bellingham is literally that good.

There was plenty of fanfare about his move to the Ruhr, from Birmingham retiring his shirt number to Manchester United's pitch to him falling on deaf ears before the Red Devils briefed that they didn't really want him, anyway.

But Bellingham looks a player capable of cutting through the noise, and is near-guaranteed to be another glowing example of how the Premier League-to-Bundesliga pipeline is breeding an exciting new wave of English talent.

7. Gio Reyna (17 years, 2 months, 5 days)

Yet another baller from Team USA who looks a lock for Rookie of the Year (OK, you probably get the picture now).

Reyna recently drew comparisons to Zinedine Zidane for his three-assist haul against Freiburg, and has a pleasing connection to the Barclays in the form of his father Claudio, who older readers might remember as a cult figure at Sunderland and Manchester City.

6. Ibrahim Tanko (17 years, 1 month, 30 days)

The first one of these for a while who is actually older than me, thank goodness.

Tanko captured the imagination of Bundesliga followers in the 1990s, when he became the youngest outfield player in league history after starting for Borussia Dortmund.

A few injuries followed, and Die Borussen ultimately cut ties with him after a failed drug test. Thankfully he has landed on his feet now, with a coaching role in the Ghana setup.

5. Jürgen Friedl (17 years, 26 days)

Hannover 96 v 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 - Second Bundesliga
Again, not many Jurgen Friedl pics doing the rounds on the next so here's a picture of Hannover 96's scenic HDI Arena | Pool/Getty Images

The goalkeeper (no relation to Brad), was the youngest player on this list for many years in similar circumstances to Drescher - the man named 'Fuzzy' was an emergency replacement for Hannover 96's first-choice glovesman, and went on to an unremarkable career thereafter.

An impressive achievement, but shouldn't really count if you ask me.

4. Florian Wirtz (17 years, 15 days)

Florian Wirtz, Nils Seufert
The youngest goalscorer in the history of the league | Pool/Getty Images

Another man to have made his debut in the behind-closed-doors era, coming on against Werder Bremen in a big win for Bayer Leverkusen and giving Marco Friedl a lot to think about.

He later became the Bundesliga's youngest ever goalscorer against Bayern Munich, and has the distinction of causing a legal scuffle between three clubs after his signing allegedly broke a gentleman's agreement between Cologne, Leverkusen and Borussia Moenchengladbach.

3. Yann Aurel Bisseck (16 years, 11 months, 28 days)

Michele Sego, Yann-Aurel Bisseck
Bisseck has appeared thrice in the Bundesliga | Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

When Koln fielded Yann Aurel Bisseck against Hertha last season, they were actually setting two records - with Claudio Pizarro also in the side, they had succesfully fielded the Bundesliga's oldest and youngest player that season.

A strong, tactically-versatile centre-back who is skilled enough to bring the ball out of defence, Bisseck has since left the Bundesliga for a loan at Vitoria Guimaraes, but will definitely be clamoured after in future.

2. Nuri Sahin (16 years, 11 months, 1 day)

Sahin had all the tools to become one of the best players in the world, but none of the luck
Sahin had all the tools to become one of the best players in the world, but none of the luck | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

From Borussia Dortmund, to Real Madrid, to Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool, to Harvard Business School, absolutely nothing has been conventional about Nuri Sahin's footballing career, which started in 2005 against Werder Bremen.

Though he was voted league Player of the Season at the tender age of 21 when Dortmund won the title, injuries happened, and he was a shadow of his former self by the time he touched down in Madrid. One of football's great 'what ifs'.

1. Youssoufa Moukoko (16 years, 1 day)

Youssoufa MoukokoDedryck Boyata
Haaland's latest competition | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen, your new youngest ever player in Bundesliga history!

Sahin's story should caution us that there's a lot of football to be played before a prospect can become established, but the two-footed wunderkind, who has already put pen to paper on a deal worth €10m with Nike, is simply finding youth football too easy at the moment.

The other interesting thing about Moukoko is that the rules literally had to change in order for him to play - previously the cut-off point was 16-and-a-half years, but given the fact that the youngster is scoring at a rate of almost a brace a game among his peers, it's probably fair to give him a bit more of a challenge.