For a while now, German football has been seen as one of the hotbeds for player development in European football.
The emphasis on producing players who possess the same skills as players groomed in the main Latinate football-nations (Brazil, Argentina, Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal among other nations) where the emphasis was on technique as opposed to the old German mindset that functionality has yielded fruit.
This came about as a result of a steady decline in the performances of both clubs and the national teams in the late 90s.
This coupled with the Bundesliga’s restrictions on team ownership has meant that clubs are majorly owned by the fans and as such, youth development is taken more seriously than in countries with more relaxed ownership structures like England
One club that has been brilliant at this in the last 2 decades has been Bayer Leverkusen. The footballing arm of pharmaceutical giants Bayer AG has, under the leadership of former Germany international striker & coach Rudi Voeller (as sporting director), emerged as a superb platform for emerging talent.
Over the years, the club has seen the likes of Toni Kroos, Arturo Vidal, Heung Min-Son, Andre Schurrle among others come through the revolving doors at the Bay Arena.
There is a very tasty collection of young ones currently tearing up the league in the colours of Die Werkself (The Company XI) and Europe’s elite are already casting admiring glances at some of these youngsters.
Here is a look at 5 of the top young talents who may be moving on quite soon:
#5 Benjamin Henrichs (German)
Playing in a position where the requirements seem to be increasing by the season, the academy graduate has made the right-back position his own for Bayer 04 and is expected to be the main challenger alongside Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich for the right-back position for Die Mannschaft.
A speedy defender who is as adept going forward as he is comfortable defending, the 21-year old was reportedly the original target for Pep Guardiola in filling the problematic right-back role at Manchester City before the Catalan genius settled on Kyle Walker for nationality and experience-in-the league reasons.
An accomplished player who combines speed and aggressiveness with the ability to perform effectively in different roles, the thrice-capped German international has not made as many starts as expected this season; only 9 in the Bundesliga so far but he has more than shown his abilities in the 17 times he has appeared.
According to certain reports, he is said to be on Barcelona’s radar, as the club reportedly want someone to compete with Nelson Semedo for the right-back spot.