Bundesliga: 5 starlets to keep an eye on when the season resumes
- Here are 5 youngsters that could catch the eye of Europe's elite when the Bundesliga returns.
- The German top-flight is set to return on the 22nd of May.
If all goes to plan, the Bundesliga is set to become the first suspended league to return to action. May 22nd is the date that has been approved by the Deutsche Football League (the organising body of the Bundesliga) and the government.
A lot of protocols have been put in place to allow the league to resume play. Players have been training in small groups since mid-April, and fitness-wise they seem ready to go. With the entire footballing world's eyes on this league, this could be the perfect opportunity for some of the young starlets in Germany to make a name for themselves.
The likes of Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Achraf Hakimi and Dani Olmo have grabbed all the headlines, and people outside of Germany might believe that they are the only talents in the league. The truth is far from this assumption, as the Bundesliga has a very strong underbelly of stars ready to burst onto the scene.
Here are 5 starlets whom you might not have heard of yet, but should definitely keep an eye on once the Bundesliga returns to action.
5. Amine Harit
Schalke's new boss David Wagner seems to have managed to elevate Amine Harit's performance to a whole new level this season. 6 goals and 4 assists this season are proof that he is one of the best young players in the league.
The 22-year-old's versatility has seen him be deployed as a CAM or on the left as an inverted winger. Schalke hugely depend on his brilliance to bail them out, as they often lack creativity elsewhere on the pitch. His impeccable first touch and an amazing arsenal of tricks mean that he is a key outlet during counter-attacks.
Harit's positional freedom often means that he drops deep to pick up the ball and run at opposition defences. He is an exceptional dribbler, completing over 5 dribbles per match. He also manages to draw over 3 fouls per game, thus breaking up play and giving his side time to reorganise themselves.
Schalke are currently looking to secure a spot in the Europa League, with Harit very much at the heart of everything positive this campaign. He is a complete forward and could slot it at any top club with ease. With Manchester City most likely set to lose Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich, he could be Sane's replacement.
4. Evan N'Dicka
20-year-old Evan N'Dicka's stock has skyrocketed this season. The Frenchman has been imperious in the new look Frankfurt side. It was somewhat of a gamble when they signed him for a reported fee of €5.5 million, following just 14 appearances in Ligue 2, but the decision has turned out to be a real masterstroke.
N'Dicka's presence in the heart of the defence has managed to keep a misfiring Frankfurt side comfortably mid-table. The 6'4" defender has won 68% of his aerial duels. For context, Virgil van Dijk has won 65% of his aerial duels. A strong tackler and hard to get past, he has averaged 2.7 tackles and interceptions per game this season.
N'Dicka's composure on the ball is second to none, and his ability to bring the ball out from the back has allowed Adi Hutter's men to play out from the goalkeeper. His pace and ability to read the game well have also seen him be deployed as an emergency full-back.
He has averaged just under 40 passes per game, which is impressive considering that his side average around 45% possession. Another great attribute of his is that he is left-footed, something rare among top-class centre-backs. A solid centre back, Evan N'Dicka is one who is destined to command a huge fee when he eventually gets snapped up.
3. Christopher Nkunku
At the start of the season, many doubted Christopher Nkunku's decision to leave the riches of PSG to fight for a place at RB Leipzig. It is fair to say all these doubts have been quashed spectacularly by the Frenchman.
In 30 appearances this season, Nkunku has scored 4 goals and provided 15 assists, and is an integral part of Julien Naglesmann's team that is giving Bayern Munich a serious run for their money this season. He has averaged 2.8 key passes per game this season and sits behind only Sancho and Muller in terms of assists in the league.
While being the main playmaker in the team, Nkunku never shies away from getting stuck in and doing the dirty work. He has been making 4.2 ball recoveries in the opposition half, allowing Leipzig to attack high up the pitch. His versatility has seen him play in multiple positions in the front-line, as well as in midfield.
The 22-year-old's footballing intelligence has often seen him make decoy runs to drag defenders away from the likes of Werner and Schick upfront. Overall, he has shown that he's like a Swiss Army Knife, comfortably able the adapt his game based on the needs of the manager.
Leipzig would have been grinning on their way back from the bank, having paid just €15 million for this gem of a player.
2. Marcus Thuram
One of the biggest coups of last summer was Borussia Monchengladbach's signing of Marcus Thuram for just €9 million. This savvy investment is going to pay them dividends in the future, as he looks like a star in the making.
The son of French football powerhouse Lilian Thuram, Marcus looks ready to take the leap and establish himself among this sport's elite. Deployed all across the front line, his 6'4" frame and sheer pace have made him a menace throughout the season.
The 6 goals and 8 assists Thuram has provided are just a small part of his overall game. The terror he has caused this season means that teams have had to double up on him, thus making space for his teammates. In the final third, he is as clinical as they come, and in one on one situations, you can put your money on him scoring 9/10 times.
He loves drifting into the half-spaces, picking up the ball and running at defenders, and has been completing a mammoth 5.5 dribbles this season. Thuram is rarely wasteful with his shots, and he has been taking over 90% of his shots from inside the box.
The 22-year-old is a complete forward, and can do it all. He can hold up the ball if needed, run the channels, or drop deep and attract defenders. He is strong with either foot and a huge aerial threat as well. With a lot of elite clubs looking for a new striker, he could be the long term solution to their problems upfront.
1. Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies has had quite the breakout campaign already. A silver lining of the long-term injuries to Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez earlier this season was the discovery of Davies' talents. Perhaps more known than the others on this list, it is easy to forget that this is the Canadian's first full season in German football.
He was a winger when he signed from the Vancouver Whitecaps, but injuries to starting defenders saw Niko Kovac play Alaba as a centre-back and Davies as a full-back. And boy has he thrived. The sheer pace he brings to the left flank is terrifying. Constantly bombing up and down the flank, his ability to occupy the entirety of the left-wing allows Coman to cut inside more freely. His attacking instincts are essential for a side like Bayern, as he can read the play and figure out when to overlap.
The 19-year-old has averaged 3.4 tackles per game, showing that he is an able defender. Only three players have played more minutes for Bayern Munich this season, which shows how much trust the manager has in him. He has averaged 1.3 key passes and 3 dribbles per game in the league this season, and has chipped in with 6 assists and 1 goal as well.
The calmness Davies shows while whipping in pinpoint crosses following a 40m dash is what sets him apart, and the sky is the limit for this young man.