With the help of Daniel Rathjen from our German office, we identified the next wave of prodigious talents coming through in Europe’s trendiest league.
By the end of the season there’s every chance the players below will be on the way to becoming the next Mario Goetze or Ilkay Gundogan - so get to know them before they go mainstream.
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1. Julian Draxler (19 years old, Schalke)
Already a full international and a strong contender for a place in Germany’s World Cup squad next summer, Draxler boasts a reputation as the next big thing in the Bundesliga but he already has two full seasons under his belt in the German top flight. A return of 10 goals last season spoke to his growing maturity and the playmaker – who in 2011 became the fourth youngest player in Bundesliga history – is expected to impress even further this season with his enviable blend of pace, technique and intelligence making him a wonderful No. 10 in the making.
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2. Jonas Hofmann (21, Borussia Dortmund)
The midfielder was Dortmund’s most impressive performer during pre-season and looks ready to make a sustained impact with Juergen Klopp’s senior side after performing mostly with the B-team last season. Jakub Blaszczykowski represents formidable competition for a first-team spot on the right but the Germany Under-21 international, recruited from Hoffenheim in 2011, came on to score a goal and win a penalty in Dortmund’s opening game of the season. Club general manager Michael Zorc recently described Hofmann as the club’s “fourth signing” of the summer after Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sokratis and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
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Already physically strong, Hojbjerg has designs on the holding role in Pep Guardiola’s 4-1-4-1 formation despite making only two Bundesliga appearances in his career. Recruited from Brondby in 2012, the Denmark youth international became Bayern’s youngest ever Bundesliga player in April and appears to have already made an impression on Guardiola. If his development continues at this pace, it won’t be long before Bastian Schweinsteiger will be looking over his shoulder with some concern.
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4. Leon Goretzka (18, Schalke)
Yet another creative midfielder to emerge from Germany’s wonderfully fertile youth ranks, Goretzka has represented his country at U16, U17, U19 and U21 levels and this is his first crack at the Bundesliga having joined Schalke from second-tier side Bochum over the summer in a rather acrimonious move. His former manager at Bochum, Peter Neururer, has described Goretzka as the “talent of the century” and while that may be a slight exaggeration, hopes are high for a player who is still studying for school exams.
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Oztunali has impeccable football pedigree given he is the grandson of former Germany great Uwe Seeler, who appeared in four World Cups and was named German Footballer of the Year on three occasions. The physically strong playmaker joined Hamburg at the age of 10 but moved to Bayer Leverkusen on the final day of the January transfer window in a move that shocked HSV – the club where Seeler spent his entire career. Oztunali has very impressive technical skills and although he has made only one Bundesliga appearance, you can expect to hear a lot more about the kid with football running through his veins.