As the end of the season beckons across Europe, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize the accomplishments of tomorrow’s stars under our Talent Radar banner, with the U-22 Team of the Season across each individual top leagues being featured for the fourth consecutive year. This feature looks at the best of the Bundesliga.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2016 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
Timo Horn* // 24 // FC Cologne // Goalkeeper: The charismatic young keeper was very close to taking this gong last season as well, but was edged out by Loris Karius. This year however, the title is his. While Cologne have seen themselves fly up the table thanks largely to the efforts of Modeste, Horn isn’t one whose efforts should be discounted either. The keeper continued to show his propensity to make excellent close range saves.
*Timo Horn is technically ineligible for this feature, but has been included due to lack of other options
Benjamin Henrichs // 20 // Leverkusen // Right Back: Henrichs has been chosen as our right back on paper, but in truth, he can fill in anywhere across the back line. The versatile young defender has been hailed as the next big thing in German football circles, and his technique, offensive and defensive, leave us in no doubt that he can indeed be one of the very best defenders in the world.
Niklas Sule // 21 // Hoffenheim // Centre Back: Playing in a back three is quite challenging, especially on the positioning front. Aside from just tactical awareness, one also needs to be skilled in individual duels, because you often need to move out and make challenges. With these parameters in mind, Sule has to be judged as one of the very best in the Bundesliga. Hoffenheim, led by their strong defence, have managed to qualify for the Champions League. If only they could’ve had a run against the elites with him around.
Andreas Christensen // 21 // Borussia Monchengladbach // Centre Back: Christensen is an established name in Germany now, with his burgeoning reputation being forged on a base of hard work, smart positioning, and neat passing. The Chelsea loanee is keen to stay on in the Bundesliga, and considering how well he has adapted, why not?
Robert Bauer // 22 // Werder Bremen // Left Back: Bremen can be quietly pleased with their season, finishing above the likes of Schalke, Gladbach, and Leverkusen. One of their best performers has been Robert Bauer. The left back is best in his team for tackles and interceptions, showcasing his strong defensive talent.
Ousmane Dembele // 20 // Borussia Dortmund // Right Winger: Dembele is another who has been used across a variety of positions, including out wide, as a second striker, and in a free role. He’s built on the strong finish he had to last season, and shown great maturity. The skillful player has done well to avoid the limelight, and regular playing time coupled with a lack of pressure have helped him grow. One feels that Dembele is best when used in a free role, a job that allows him to express himself, and use his pace, dribbling ability, and creativity to the fullest.
Naby Keita // 22 // RB Leipzig // Central Midfielder: The Leipzig dynamo has been vital to their rise this season, and eventual second place finish. Keita has added lungs, power, and skill to the Leipzig midfield, and allowed them to impose their style on the opposition more often than not. While he’s probably at his most effective at the heart of play, he’s proven that he can be very good in an advanced position too, covering there for Emil Forsberg from time to time.
Mahmoud Dahoud // 21 // Borussia Monchengladbach // Central Midfielder: Dahoud broke through last season, and has effectively been a replacement for the departed Granit Xhaka. He’s done a swell job of it too, proving that his passing is by no means inferior to that of his predecessor. In the defensive scheme of things too, Dahoud has been effective, at shielding his defenders, being close to the top of his team for tackles and interceptions.
Julian Brandt // 21 // Leverkusen // Left Winger: Leverkusen had a tough season, and found themselves languishing in mid table, well away from their pre-season goals. While they may have written it off in terms of progress towards trophies, they’ve certainly made progress when it comes to youth. Julian Brandt has been a constant feature of their team, and a difference maker with his pace, dribbling, and sharp attacking play.
Serge Gnabry // 21 // Werder Bremen // Striker: Arsenal must sure be regretting their decision to let Gnabry go. The versatile and talented forward has been very useful for Bremen this season, chipping in with eleven goals to make him the second highest scorer for his team.
Timo Werner // 21 // RB Leipzig // Striker: The other youngster involved in Leipzig’s stunning rise to the top is Timo Werner. The striker has been brilliant for his team, growing in prominence as the season has progressed. He’s been great in cahoots with Poulsen, and the duo formed a deadly strike partnership to take their team to the top tier of the table. Werner has impressed a lot of critics with his hard running, movement, and pace off the ball. These traits have made him invaluable to a counter attacking team like Leipzig.