The German Bundesliga is the last of Europe’s top 5 leagues to get back up and running since the stoppage due to the 2022 Qatar World Cup. It is no question that the Bundesliga has created some incredible talents over the last few years. Players like Jamal Musial, who showcased his ability in the World Cup with Germany on top of the fact he’s become a starter for Bayern this season.
Some other players like Georginio Rutter who moved to Leeds United from Hoffenheim and Kevin Schade who moved to Brentford from Freiburg are young stars who have been picked up due to their impressive performances, thus a hefty fee came with them. That being said, prior to the restart of the German top flight, let's take a look at the best U-21 players in the Bundesliga that have been going under the radar and who could become headliners come this next year.
The first player on this list comes from Bayer Leverkusen, who have some big talent cooking up in their squad such as Jeremie Frimpong, Adam Hlozek and Pierro Hincapie. However, it is German attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz who looks to have the most potential.
Wirtz first came on the scene with Leverkusen in May of 2020 and really flourished the season after, making 38 appearances in all competitions and contributing to 7 goals in 6 games during their Europa League run. Wirtz has made a few appearances for Germany’s senior squad and is known for his ridiculous ball control, collective finishing ability and considerable composure, all of which has led him to the point he’s at now.
Back in March 2021, Wirtz suffered a ligament rupture which sidelined him for 265 days, but he is now slowly returning to the first team. Many people may have forgotten about the hype the attacking midfield was garnering, but his comeback is on the horizon. With Leverkusen in 12th place with a -1 goal differential, Wirtz’s return will be a huge boost if they want to push up the table.
With the current names carrying Bayern at the moment, French striker Mathys Tel has only recently been making ripples. With Choupo Moting leading the German Champions up front since the departure of Robert Lewandowski, a different striker may start seeing his way into their first team.
Mathys Tel was one of Bayern’s many signings this past window after Ligue One club Rennes accepted a hefty 20 million Euro bid for the 17-year-old. Tel has played for all three U-17, U-18 and U-19 French squads and has totalled an astonishing 15 goals in 21 games. Last year Tel captained the U-17 squad to winning the U-17 2022 UEFA EUROs, starting each match along the route to victory.
Now, as the Bundesliga starts up again, Bayern will be looking to have a strong end to their season which could potentially see Tel make a few appearances and/or starts. In Bayern’s friendly a week ago against RB Salzburg, Tel got subbed on and had two goal contributions in their 4-4 match, putting in a stellar performance. The young star will surely be a threat if he gets his well-deserved chance this season, especially with Bayern’s well-known injury woes.
If someone mentioned a German winger with the last name Sané for Schalke, it would be assumed that they were talking about Leroy. Sidi Sané, his younger brother could be on the same path as his sibling, playing on the right wing. While he has played the majority of his football on Schalke’s second team, he recently made his Bundesliga debut against Bayern Munich back in November in a match that saw Schalke defeated 2-0.
For Schalke’s second team, playing in the Regionalliga, Sané has made 11 appearances and netted 3 goals so far. Between juggling with the first team in training and now on the pitch to get good performances for their second team, it looks like Sané will be following the likes of Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer, and his brother by slowly getting the chances he’s working for.
Sané is regularly training with Schalke’s first team and with the amount of well-known talent that comes out of that club, he is one to possibly break through this year with his rapid agility, good ball movement, and ability to score goals. He is definitely a player to keep an eye on as Schalke look to get out of their current 18th-spot position in the league.
The Bundesliga has had its fair share of American talent come through with Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Giovanni Reyna all making significant impacts throughout the last few years. Joe Scally is another young American who has finally broken through the ranks of Borussia Monchengladbach’s first team since joining them from New York City FC back in 2021.
The 20-year-old right-back has made 15 starts in the Bundesliga this season after benching Stefan Lainer due to his impressive defensive capabilities and willingness to contribute forward as well. Scally made such an impact that he got his call-up to the U.S. men’s senior squad and eventually made the squad list for their 2022 Qatar World Cup. Scally became the youngest player in the U.S. World Cup squad but unfortunately did not make any appearances.
Joe Scally seems to be going under the radar as one of the crucial pieces to the Borussia Monchengladbach squad pushing for a European spot for next season. They are currently sitting in 8th position and with the likes of Marcus Thuram, Manu Kone, and Alassane Plea making the headlines each week, Scally is an underrated talent that certainly will be known about sooner than later.
Jakub Kaminski isn’t a Bundesliga product like some of the others on this list, as the Polish youngster arrived last summer at VfL Wolfsburg from Lech Poznan for a fee of 10 million euros after an impressive campaign in the Ekstraklasa. The left winger made 33 appearances in the Polish league and contributed 17 times in their league-winning season in 2020/2021. At 19 years of age, Kaminski was a hot commodity and came to Wolfsburg at a respectable price.
Kaminski quickly was noticed by the Polish national squad and made the 2022 Qatar World Cup Senior team, where he made some bright appearances in the tournament. In the Bundesliga, Kaminski has gotten his chance and taken it by playing 13 times, where he has assisted 3 goals and made quite an impact on the ball. He scored his first goal for Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal against Eintracht Braunschweig in a 2-1 victory in October.
Jakub Kaminski is extremely quick and knows how to get around defenders, but lacks a physical advantage which will certainly come with time. One of the brightest Polish talents alongside Roma’s Nico Zalewski, if Kaminski continues to get appearances for Wolfsburg, he will surely be a player to watch for in the future.