1. Leon Bailey, 20 years
“In Leon Bailey we have brought in another highly promising player on a long-term deal,” said club CEO Michael Schade at the time. “This lad was high up on the wish list of many other European clubs. That makes us even happier to have won out against such strong competition.” Head scout Jonas Boldt echoed that view: “We had to act quickly or else we wouldn’t have been able to sign him later.”
The pride Leverkusen’s leaders had after signing Bailey has shown he was worth the effort in bringing to the club. Scoring against Schalke, Borussia Mönchengladbach and in the Rhein-Derby against Cologne in the space of four games in late 2017, Bailey proved he is a player for the biggest of stages. He then followed up those performances with a sensational display at Hoffenheim in January 2018, in which he scored a goal for the Bundesliga ages by bamboozling the entire defence with a backheeled goal from ten yards. It did not stop at that, haven recently got first onto the scoresheet away at Mainz 05, it appears the only way is up for Bailey. 13-appearances, 8-goals, 5-assists, 7.64-Rating
2. Christian Pulisic, 19years
The rise of maybe the best American soccer player ever, who’s been linked to Liverpool and Manchester United, doesn’t square with US Soccer’s problems. Christian Pulisic is already at one of the biggest soccer clubs in Europe.
Borussia Dortmund are perennial Bundesliga challengers, consistent performers at Champions League level and average crowds of just under 80,000 fans per game, but still, this is only viewed as a rung on the young American’s ladder to the top. That says a lot about what is expected of Pulisic. 18-appearances, 81.7% passes completed, 3-goals, 1-assist, He is a superstar in-waiting. 7.15-Rating
3. Salih Özcan, 20years
Former Germany U19 captain Özcan made ten Bundesliga appearances for Cologne last season and has earlier been named the best German player at U19 level ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt’s Aymen Barkok and Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Gökhan Gül.
Özcan was part of the Cologne team that defeated Borussia Monchengladbach and Hamburger SV, also drew to Augsburg on MD20. Özcan wears the team’s no. 7 shirt and has been a regular starter since 2017/18 summer with 15-appearances and 84.6% passes completed. 7.01-Rating
4. Jadon Sancho, 17years 1A
Sancho originally seemed to be a long-term investment for Dortmund after signing last summer for the Schwarzgelben from Manchester City at the age of 17. Upon arrival, he was given Ousmane Dembele’s vacated No. 7 jersey in the first team squad, a gesture that seemed more symbolic than prophetical at the time as he spent the first half of the 2017/2018 season with the reserves and the U-19 squad for the UEFA Youth League. However, the Rückrunde proved to be his big break as coach Peter Stöger gave him his first Bundesliga start against Wolfsburg on Matchday 18.
Although Dortmund drew that match, Sancho’s composure and dribbling caught the imagination of fans and pundits across Germany. On Matchday 19, he started again for Dortmund and provided a vital assist for Shinji Kagawa to save a point in Berlin after going 1-0 down against Hertha, he also started on Matchday 20 against cementing his newfound status. If the trend continues, Jadon Sancho will join a pantheon of British players who came to Germany and triumphed in one of the world’s toughest leagues. 6.74-Rating.
5. Jann-Fiete Arp, 18years
Arp had his debut for Hamburger SV in the Nordderby against rivals Werder Bremen, coming on as an 89th minute substitute for Bobby Wood. On 28 October 2017, Arp scored his first Bundesliga goal against Hertha BSC. Arp was part of the German under-17 team, scoring seven goals in the 2017 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. Later that year, Arp played in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he scored five goals. Juggling his studies for his upcoming Abitur – the equivalent of A-levels or a high school diploma – with up to three training sessions a day while on the Iberian peninsula has proved challenging, but the Germany U-19 international is not complaining.
“The exams will be difficult but I’m on the right track,” he said. “I’ve still got four months to go and I want to pass.” After impressing for Germany at the UEFA European U-17 Championship last summer – where he became the only player ever to score two hat-tricks in one tournament at that level – Arp announced his arrival on the Bundesliga scene in style.
He became the first player born since the turn of the millennium to play in Germany’s top flight when he made his debut in September, and even hit the net in his next two league outings in October to become the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer. Such is Arp’s promise that he started six successive games for Hamburg, keeping more experienced strikers Bobby Wood and Andre Hahn out of the side with his contract set to expire, HSV are naturally intent to sign a new deal with him.