We all have those favourite players, maybe you’ve scouted them on Football Manager or maybe they captured your imagination on the field. Sadly, a career will inevitably end and someone else will have to take up the mantle. Sometimes a career is hyped up so much before it even becomes a career.
Either way, whether you’re on Football Manager or whether you’re an actual football manager you need to keep the conveyer belt of talent running smoothly.
That takes us to Germany, so in no particular order, here are 10 top young talents that could be worth keeping an eye on this season.
Joshua Kimmich – Bayern
Eventually, Bayern will have to find a replacement for Philipp Lahm and they might just have one ready and waiting. Already sharing some similarities to Lahm in that he’s a natural defender turned midfielder, he’s looked alarmingly comfortable for a 21 year old playing in the biggest club in the country.
He had a solid Euro 2016 tournament and has carried that form into the Bundesliga. He’s made 3 appearances this season with one goal to his name, one appearance in the Champions League with two goals and also scored his maiden goal for Germany in that same week.
With Germany not having quite replaced Lahm since his international retirement, they may not have to look much further than Joshua Kimmich.
Christian Pulisic – Dortmund
I don’t like Dortmund. There, I said it. I find the love affair with them nauseating and every other fanbase in Germany is just as loud. Plus, Schalke are my German team, so I have to dislike them.
However, I have a lot of time Christian Pulisic. Dortmund have a gem with this lad. Operating mainly on the left-wing, he’s the third youngest debutant for Dortmund and was a key figure in the USMNT semi-final run in the Copa America Centenario.
Oh, and he was 17 in that tournament.
With Henrikh Mkhitaryan now playing in Manchester and with Marco Reus seemingly not being able to complete a full season anymore, Pulisic should see a lot of game time this season. Thankfully for him, we’ve all learned a lesson from Freddy Adu.
Julian Brandt – Leverkusen
Natural striker turned winger, Julian Brandt had an outstanding campaign last season. He had nine goals to his name, all resulting in wins, and became the first player under 20 years old to score in 6th successive matches since 1974.
I suppose he was never going to make the Euro 2016 squad as Germany are fairly stacked for midfielders, but he had a solid Olympics tournament. He likes to dribble and can pick out a pass, and in a team with the creativity that Leverkusen have, he should be fun to watch this season.
Serge Gnabry – Bremen
Arguably Germany’s stand out player in their silver medal winning team in Rio, he’s gone back to Germany after seeing his career stall, then nosedive, in the Premier League. He didn’t get much playing time at Arsenal and Tony Pulis only played him once at West Brom.
Still, he made an impression in Germany during the Olympics and Werder Bremen seems like a good spot for him to get some game time. He ended the Olympics on 6 goals, joint top with German striker Nils Petersen, and is already off the mark with Bremen by scoring a storming volley in a 4-1 loss to Gladbach.
Werder Bremen are in for a tough season having fired their manager already, but as we saw in Rio, give Serge the ball and magic could follow. Individually, he could be in for a fine season.
Lukas Klostermann – Leipzig
Lukas Klostermann played the majority of games last season in RB’s promotion from Bundesliga.2 and managed to register 1 goal and four assists from right back. He looks more like an attacking right back than a shut-down right back, he completed 62% of passes compared to winning 29% of tackles in his first game and won 48% of challenges all last season.
There is plenty of room for improvement, for sure, and hopefully he can cement a place in the backline to go along with his U21 progress at international level.
Nico Elvedi – Monchengladbach
Nico Elvedi only really began to catch the eye of fans in the second half of last season, and winning 58% of your challenges will definitely go a long way into bagging a first team place. Much like Joshua Kimmich, Elvedi can play centre back, fullback and defensive midfield and look a natural doing it.
Roel Brouwers and Martin Stranzl have left the club which leaves a gap that Nico Elvedi will most definitely look to fill. He’s got 24 Bundesliga appearances already to his name and have positive percentages in both attack and defence already this campaign.
Coach Andre Schubert likes what he sees from Nico Elvedi, so get used to seeing his name.
Breel Embolo – Schalke
Schalke beat a host of clubs for the signature of Breel Embolo who conquered the Swiss league three times with Basel and played in every game of Switzerland’s Euro 2016 campaign.
Last season he posted a career best 10 goals and 10 assists and has made 4 appearances for Schalke this season. His 12% win percentages of aerial challenges could be a concern, but he’s completed 65.5% of passes and has created six chances.
The Bundesliga is a big step up for him, but given that Klaas Jan Huntelaar is pushing 32 and that Franco di Santo is, well, Franco di Santo, we should see Embolo a fair bit this season. My fondness for Schalke hopes that he hits the ground running sooner rather than later.
Timo Horn – Koln
At 23, he’s one of the older players on this list but I wanted at least one goalkeeper on here and he’s younger than me, so I’m putting him in anyway.
He’s got 69 Bundesliga appearances to his name and has only conceded one goal so far this season, keeping 2 clean sheets and making a total of 17 saves in the process. If you want a percentage, he’s saved 94.44% of shots so far.
He’s already a darling for Koln as evidenced by him being voted their player of the season for the 15/16 campaign and he will have gained more exposure from Germany’s silver medal winning run at the Olympics.
Whilst Koln aren’t typically that fun to watch, Timo Horn looks like he’ll be a key player in a mid-table team that can be very tough to beat.
Konstantinos Stafylidis – Augsburg
At 22 years old, Konstantinos Stafylidis is already looking like a capable left back for an Augsburg team that continue to impress in the Bundesliga. He’s made 16 appearances in the Bundesliga in total and has 3 goals to his name, including a direct free-kick. At international level, he’s made 11 appearances for Greece and has one goal to his name.
Stafylidis isn’t afraid to get in on the attacking side, so far he’s made 11 chances this season and had 8 attempts on goal himself, he’s also very capable defensively. He’s made 61% of tackles and is a monster in the air, winning 84.6% percent of his aerial duels so far this campaign.
Bakery Jatta – Hamburg
Admittedly, I don’t really know anything about this kid. I read his story on the Bundesliga website and just had to throw him in, though. He made his way to Germany from Gambia across the Mediterranean Sea to escape a life of danger in Gambia.
Oh, and he’d apparently never played football in Gambia at any level. So why have Hamburg taken a chance on him?
You’ll probably have to find someone at Hamburg to answer that, but he’s got two goals in 4 games for Hamburg’s second team and given how inconsistent they are up-front, we’ll hopefully see a lot of Bakery Jatta this season, even if it is just for the story.
There are a lot more names to keep an eye on this year, some that have arrived for big money such as Renato Sanches at Bayern and some that have left big clubs on loan to prove themselves such as Alen Halilovic at Hamburg.
Even if you want to dismiss the Bundesliga as merely a one club league, you can’t deny that there is a wealth of young talent in this league, young talent that may eventually find themselves playing in a league you actually care about.
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