The Bundesliga has always been a breeding ground for young, talented starlets. These new-boys stretch back as far as the likes of Germany’s very own Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller all the way to the present day heroes of Phillip Lahm and Miroslav Klose (The most prolific World Cup goalscorer of all time).
The 2015/2016 Bundesliga season looks set to maintain this reputation with a host of players under the age of 23 looking to burst onto the scene this campaign. I have taken a look at three young players capable of setting the league alight this season in the first part of this series:
Name: Julian Weigl
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Previous Club(s): 1860 Munich
The 1860 Munich academy product forced and retained his position in the 2.Bundesliga side during the 13/14 campaign with a continuous string of strong and consistent performances. This alerted the clubs that had the current Germany U21 international on their radars and the first team to twitch was German giants Borussia Dortmund; who acquired the services of Weigl for a fee rumoured to be in the region of £2m with add-ons included in the deal based on player performances.
The 6ft2 central midfielder has made a early statement to Thomas Tuchel and the rest of the Dortmund backroom team with seven impressive performances in competitive fixtures so far for the Yellow and Black Army.
Weigl has already shown glimpses of what he can bring to the team. Not only has he displayed his defensive capabilities in his deep-lying position just in front of the defence, he has also played a key part in a number of the Dortmund goals via his ability to offload the ball quickly from within Dortmund’s own half to aid them to counter teams on the break.
Name: Leonardo Bittencourt
Club: FC Koln (Cologne)
Previous Club(s): FC Energie, Borussia Dortmund, Hannover 96
Cologne made a selection of very impressive signings during the summer transfer window of 2015 in terms of both quality and transfer fees and Bittencourt enforces this.
Bittencourt broke onto the scene early in his career and has maintained his position on the pitch for both Hannover and his new club FC Koln. This regular occurrence of games has aided the German under-21 international to raise his reputation domestically. Due to this, it came as a enormous shock to many Bundesliga fans when Cologne announced that the club had pulled off the signing of Bittencourt for just £2 million. This move may have been a blessing in disguise for the pacey winger as it would appear that the 21-year-old will now be carrying more responsibility on his shoulders in what is a fairly young FC Koln side.
The former German champions now have a run of games which they will surely favourite themselves in and therefore gives Leonardo Bittencourt a great chance to run riot during September. With this in mind, Cologne’s new star winger is certainly one to keep a close eye on this season.
Name: Hakan Calhanoglu
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Previous Club(s): Karlsruher, Hamburg
Hakan Calhanoglu almost immediately installed himself into the Leverkusen starting line-up since his £10.5 million switch from fellow Bundesliga rivals Hamburg in August 2014. The Turkish international became an internet and media sensation regularly throughout the season (most commonly because of his outstanding free kick ability he repeatably demonstrated).
With Leverkusen having qualified for the Champions League this season after beating Serie A outfit Lazio 3-1 over two legs, Calhanoglu now has a fantastic opportunity to make a statement to both his club and the rest of Europe that he has exactly what it takes to perform on the biggest stage that club football has to offer.
Turkey’s newest young sensation is enjoying a quality start to the season, scoring three goals in six competitive fixtures at club level so far.
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Check back in for part two of the series next week!