The Bundesliga - home of reigning European champions, Bayern Munich - has a long history of producing some of the finest footballers in the world. From the likes of Michael Ballack and Jens Lehmann to Andre Schurrle, Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Bundesliga has produced several top-class talents who have enjoyed success in Europe.
The apparent willingness of the Bundesliga to employ young managers enables the promotion of academy players to first teams. One such example is that of Julian Nagelsmann, who became the head coach of Hoffenheim at the age of 29 and promoted numerous academy players like Christian Baumgartner.
While the Premier League and Serie A are more interested in buying finished products and investing in typically mature mid-20s footballers, the Bundesliga risks trying young players for their first-team setups. With lower revenues compared to the continent's other top-five leagues, even the big teams in the Bundesliga tend to keep small first-team squads.
That allows them to try academy players in some of their first-team games. For someone like Jadon Sancho, who was only 18 when he departed Manchester City, it was an opportunity to gain more game-time with Borussia Dortmund.
Reiss Nelson is another example of a British youngster who purused his trade in Germany for a while, where he gained some invaluable game-time in the Bundesliga. His stint at Hoffenheim last season saw him score six goals in his first seven matches. Nelson is now back at his parent club Arsenal, though.
Top five young Bundesliga players to watch out for
Last season, several young players in the Bundesliga came up with impressive performances.
The likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz subsequently made their moves to England after fine Bundesliga campaigns for their respective sides - Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen. Joshua Kimmich, who has evolved to be a key player at Bayern Munich, had an outstanding season too. Jadon Sancho seemed destined to move to Manchester United, although the move never materialised.
This season of the Bundesliga also promises to throw up some of the most talented youngsters in the German top flight to the limelight. On that note, let us take a look at five such players..
#5 Christoph Baumgartner (Hoffenheim)
While the Austrian midfielder may have slipped under the radar, Christoph Baumgartner had a direct hand in 13 goals last season, scoring seven and assisting six. Baumgartner, who made his debut in the 2018-19 Bundesliga season under Julian Naggelsman, has been an exceptional find for Hoffenheim.
Baumgartner's trajectory seems no different to that of Roberto Firmino and Nicklas Sule - former Hoffenheim graduates who went on to have success at Liverpool and Bayern Munich respectively.
The player's versatility makes him a great asset for a team that likes to play fluid and attacking football, where the forward players need to be interchangeable. Baumgartner, who is a player usually at the end of the build-up phase, helps his team transition into attack. His positioning in between the lines helps him do the same.
Whether playing in his favourite number ten role or leading the attack himself, Baumgartner has shown that he has the pedigree to succeed in the highest level of German football. This season could see him take his game to the next level.
#4 Paulinho (Bayer Leverkusen)
The move from Brazil to Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen has turned out to be an impressive one for the 20-year old winger Paulinho. Signed from Vasco da Gama in 2018, it took some time for Paulinho to adapt to life in Germany, though.
Nevertheless, Paulinho scored his maiden goal for Leverkusen when he came off the bench to net his side’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Wolves. His first start came at home to Frankfurt on March 7, 2020, where he had a hand in three of Leverkusen’s four goals.
A fleet-footed and versatile attacker who can do equal damage on the flanks or in a central attacking role, Paulinho has much in common with the former Barcelona and Arsenal playmaker Alexis Sanchez.
Since 2018, Paulinho has made 27 appearances for Leverkusen, scoring in three games. The youngest player to ever play for Vasco da Gama has now broken into the Brazil U-23 team as well.
Bayer Leverkusen seems to be the right club for the Brazilian winger, as its manager Peter Bosz has a penchant to play young emerging players.