There is no footballing finishing school as prolific as Borussia Dortmund. The German club doesn’t always produce its own talent, often scouting around to find the best and brightest prospects, but their track record in taking those prospects and turning them into full-blown superstars speaks for itself.
Of course, Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho are the best embodiment of this at this particular moment in time. The former is the most sought after talent in world football right now, with Europe’s biggest clubs all lining up to make their pitch to the Norwegian striker - quite literally as his agent Mino Raiola flies around the continent.
The latter was the talk of last summer’s window, ultimately staying put at the Westfalenstadion, but not before a transfer market tug-of-war saw Dortmund demand a fee of over €100m for the English winger. Manchester United refused to stump up, but are expected to at least register their interest again this summer.
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It’s entirely possible that Haaland and Sancho will depart Dortmund this summer, but the Black and Yellow already have their next generation lined up. This is what they do, never leaving themselves short of an exhilarating young talent or two for long - see how Christian Pulisic’s €64m sale to Chelsea allowed Sancho to become a more prominent figure.
Jude Bellingham, signed from Birmingham City only last summer, has arguably been the biggest success story of an otherwise underwhelming season for Borussia Dortmund. Just 17 years old, the English midfielder has quickly become a first team figure, standing out in last week’s Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Manchester City.
Last week’s clash at the Etihad Stadium saw Bellingham pitted directly against Phil Foden. As a pair, they have to be considered the future, and maybe even the present, of England’s midfield and stand as proof of the progress the country has made in producing technically able ball-players. England never would have cultivated two players in the mould of Bellingham and Foden a decade ago.
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Borussia Dortmund have played a significant role in Bellingham’s growth just as they have Gio Reyna’s, son of Claudio Reyna to keep the Manchester City links going. The 18-year-old attacking midfielder already has two seasons of first team action under his belt and could be next in line to take Sancho’s place should he leave.
Ansgar Knauff hasn’t received the same level of hype as Bellingham or Reyna, but the 19-year-old is highly rated enough at the Westfalenstadion to start Champions League knockout matches, as he did against City last week. Seven goals in 20 games for Dortmund’s B team last season hinted at his potential.
Then there’s Youssoufa Moukoko, the 16-year-old forward who became the youngest ever player in Bundesliga and Champions League history earlier this season. Those in the know expected Moukoko’s breakthrough for a number of years having been hyped as a wonderkid from a young age. Many predict he will be Borussia Dortmund’s greatest ever young talent.
22-year-old striker Steffen Tigges has also made a breakthrough this season while Dan-Axel Zagadou, 21, is seen as the next great defender in black and yellow. Results in the Bundesliga have been disappointing of late, but new manager Marco Rose, who will arrive from Borussia Monchengladbach this summer, will have plenty to work with.
Wednesday’s Champions League quarter final second leg might come too soon for many of these youngsters to make a real impact, but Borussia Dortmund are well-equipped to stay competitive at this level even if Haaland and Sancho leave. At this club, there’s almost always another superstar in the making to get excited about.
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