The Bundesliga is the most exciting league in Europe. Long overshadowed by England, Italy and Spain, the last few seasons have signified progression for Germany's top division.
A significant factor for the progress displayed by German clubs is their mutual agreement to produce young talents from their academies and nurture them into the stars of tomorrow. Germany is now a breeding ground to some of the most talented footballers across Europe.
Below is a list of the best talents in the Bundesliga.
Marco Reus | Borussia Dortmund
At just 23-years-old, Marco Reus isn’t shy of the sight of goal, having scored 11 in the Bundesliga already following his big-money move from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer. Now it is clear why his price tag was so high.
Possibly the most prolific of the divison’s strikers, Reus has deputised for Robert Lewandowski this season playing second fiddle to the Polish international but, given the chance, he has certainly produced for Dortmund. He has picked up a valuable 14 caps for the competitive German national team, scoring five goals. He certainly has a very bright future ahead of him and has attracted interest from a host of top-flight clubs in recent times.
A match winner with blistering pace with or without the ball, his ability to make runs through the defence makes him one of the hottest properties on the market in the striking role.
He grew up in Germany, north of the Rhine, and made his debut for local club Rot Weiss second team, and then the first team. In 2009 he was scouted by Monchengladbach and made a whopping 97 league appearances bagging 36 goals and leading Monchengladbach to European heights. He then made a big money move to Borussia in 2012 where, in his first season at the club has put away 11 in 22 appearances.
Mario Götze | Borussia Dortmund
Dubbed the ‘next Lionel Messi’, the 20-year-old German has a buy-out clause of £30m inserted into his contract in an attempt to keep potential admirers at arms length. Capped 20 times by Germany at the tender age of 20, you can understand why various Premier League clubs have been linked with a move for the Memmingen-born midfielder.
Götze plays either off the striker or drops onto the wings, where he can produce venomous crosses for Reus or Lewandowski to attack. He is known for his speed down the by line and his calmness in front of goal. He can strike the ball very well and his most recent goal was against Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 16 of the Champions League, where he guided Borussia Dortmund to a place in the next round, taking the third goal on the night with a cheeky flick towards the far post from a well-delivered cross.
His father was a professor and fan of football, which somehow transpired into an extremely sporting family with Fabian Götze and Felix Götze making their way into professional Football in Germany, with older brother Fabian playing in the second division with Vfl Bochum, and Felix in the Borussia Dortmund youth set up. Mario Götze made his way up the ladder to fame through the academies of Ronsburg and Hombruch, eventually making his move to Borussia Dortmund in 2009. Since then he has made over 78 league appearances, having scored 20 goals for the club.
Kevin Trapp | Eintracht Frankfurt
Kevin Trapp is a newcomer on the block at just 22 years of age, having come from Germany's lower divisions with Eintracht Frankfurt’s newly-promoted side breaking all the rules to sit fourth in the Bundesliga, having kept two clean sheets in his last three matches.
He's a real shot-stopper, who could prove to be a real star and I would invite Premier League bosses to try him out. Trapp has to be accredited with Frankfurt's success having been in superb form this season.
Trapp was in West Germany in Merzig, where he learnt his trade at a very young age, starting off at Bachem and then going on to play at Mettlach. He was then discovered by second division side Kaiserslautern, where he made a total of 71 appearances for both the first and second teams. He then moved to Frankfurt for this season's promotion, where he has performed exceptionally and is possibly the main reason why Frankfurt are currently fourth in the German league, shipping very few goals since the 22-year-old's arrival.
Julian Draxler | Schalke
Julian Draxler is German International with a very bright future ahead of him, at the very young age of 19. Much like Lewis Holtby, he is a young attacking midfielder, who has certainly made his mark on a number of occasions against some of Germany's top clubs. In many ways, he has kept Schalke in contention for Europe. He has bullied his way into the starting 11, and even has a few goals to his name in the blue of Schalke.
Draxler plays in the midfield, either in the centre or out wide. His ability to cross is on display with some very fine assists this season and some very fine finishes at that. At such a young age it is odd that he shows such composure in front of goal and can strike a ball extremely powerfully.
Since he made his debut at 17 for Schalke, he has made 67 league appearances already and has put away 10 goals in that time. The club's scouts clearly saw the talent that was Draxler, picking him up in 2001 when he was eight years of age.
David Alaba | Bayern Munich
David Alaba first came on the scene a few years ago when he made it into Bayern's reserve team. The young Austrian certainly made an impact and was promoted to first team action after a year, joining up with the likes of Franck Ribery and Miroslav Klose. He left his mark as one of the only Austrians in the Bayern team and was called up to the international squad after 4 caps for the U21's. He was just too good. At 20, he has already racked up 18 caps, almost one for every year of his life.
Alaba is possibly the most versatile player in the Bundesliga, with a staggering ability to chop and change his positions. He is certainly fast and has played on the wings, servicing the likes of Gomez, but has more recently dropped into the left-back role where he has not failed to get forward. His outstanding performances last year ensured him a permanent place in the team, with no one really challenging to replace him.
Alaba was born in Vienna where he grew up with football, joining local club SV Aspern before moving onto Wien. From there, he was recruited after an impressive youth career and made the switch to the Allianz in 2008, six years from when he had joined the ranks of Wien. Since joining Munich, he has flourished as a very creative player and has solidified his place for both club and country at 20 years of age. He enjoyed a loan spell at Hoffenheim for a season, but apart from that looks to be set to stay at Bayern for the rest of his career. If not, the scouts will certainly be watching.
Son Heung-Min | Hamburg
Without a doubt, one of the Bundesliga's hottest properties at just 20 years of age. Currently playing in the colours of Hamburg FC, he was recruited when he was just 15 to Hamburg's youth academy, a move that is apparently about to pay off, with a whole host of clubs interested in winning his signature this summer.
Son usually accompanies Rafael Van der Vaart on the opposite wing, utilising his agility and presence to full effect. Whether it be nipping around a set of defenders and playing the ball square for the forward to tuck away, or if he is the forward he can certainly do a job, having put away 17 for the Blues since his arrival in 2010.
Born in South Korea in the area of Chuncheon, Son's early footballing career was mute to say the least. He played for his school, Dongbok, until scouts picked him up and brought him into the German scene, where he hastily earned a place in South Korea's U17 and then immediately into first team action after a year and seven goals for the U17 team. He now has made a total of 12 appearances for his country, and there is constant competition to make it into South Korea's much improved team. This one is certainly a talent to watch out for.
Marc-André ter Stegen | Borussia Mönchengladbach
Here's another keeper who has certainly made his mark on the footballing world. Ter Stegen has been utterly sensational for Mönchengladbach this season, adding to their Europe dream. At the young age of 20, he has a real future ahead of him, already having played in the Germany national team, which we all know Manuel Neuer has wrapped up in his pocket as the undoubted number one in the team.
Unlike my previous picks, ter Stegen is a true Mönchengladbach boy, having played there all his life - he joined when he was just four years old, incredibly. So not much history here: young boy joins his local club and never moves. This one is definitely the next No. 1 for Germany, if Neuer ever pulls up.
Sebastian Jung | Eintracht Frankfurt
Sebastian Jung has made 103 appearances for the Frankfurt and 17 appearances for the Germany U21s.
Jung has been solid at the back and is certainly not shy of getting forward to offer another route via the wings. Frankfurt may go into the Champions League in their first season back in the Bundesliga which would be an outstanding feat.
The 22-year-old has been very solid at the back, providing support to both the centre backs and the wingers. He is a right-back so, at the moment, there is no replacing Phil Lahm in the Germany national team but when Lahm moves on, this one is certainly a possible replacement for him. A real talent here.
Jung started his footballing career at FC Königstein and made several appearances for them, until he was recruited into the ranks of Frankfurt, where he started to play regularly for the Frankfurt second team. He was then promoted into the first team where he has played for a mammoth of games for his age. Truly rather remarkable. A bright talent to watch for the future.
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