Youssoufa Moukoko is the 15-year-old hotshot breaking records with a €10m Nike deal and was so good when he was a kid that people thought he had lied about his age… now Dortmund could promote him to the first-team when football returns
- Lucien Favre recently discussed using Youssoufa Moukoko in the first-team
- There were suggestions his age was false when he was a 12-year-old player
- They are false and Moukoko has since gone from strength to strength
- Now 15, he has scored 35 goals in 26 appearances this season for the Under 17s
There was only one way to explain how good Youssoufa Moukoko was when he was 12-years-old. To some of those watching, the striker simply had to have lied about his age.
It is a nasty stereotype that is often ascribed to players of an African background, but it gained credence when Borussia Dortmund’s own Under 23s manager suggested something was amiss.
‘With Youssoufa, I can imagine that his age has only been guessed,’ Timo Preus said. ‘Maybe in reality he is one or two years older. But certainly he is not 17. For him that is very difficult. There is nothing to blame him for, the boy is not cheating or anything.’
Borussia Dortmund’s 15-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko is on the cusp of joining the first-team
He has starred for Dortmund at youth level for a number of years, leading to the discussions
Moukoko playing for Germany’s Under 16s when he was a 12-year-old in September 2017
It caused tensions at Dortmund. Youth coordinator Lars Ricken was clear: ‘He is twelve years old. That is a fact and there is no doubt about it.’
Remember the kid in the playground who was so phenomenal that myths developed around him? That was the case for Moukoko.
He burst onto the scene with a double against Schalke’s Under 17s when he was just 12 and scored 40 goals the next season.
Then he broke records, bagging 46 in the following campaign. There were six hat-tricks and three four-goal hauls in that season too.
Moukoko playing for Dortmund against Derby County in the UEFA Youth League in February
It is why, when he was 14-years-old, Nike decided to sign him up to a deal that was potentially worth €10million (£8.7m), tying down the brightest prospect in world football.
He received €1m of that fee up front, making him a millionaire at a time when most people are just getting their head around basic algebra.
A year prior to that, he was being regularly watched by Barcelona. They scouted him in the Under 17 semi-final against Bayer Leverkusen.
The older he gets, the more attention Moukoko demands. Now 15, he’s making waves.
He signed a colossal deal with Nike when he was a 14-year-old, making him a millionaire
Towards the end of last month, he was called up to the Germany Under 19s side despite being three years beneath the age group.
He will be included in the squad for the games against Wales, Austria and Serbia at the end of March.
It is a huge boost for Dortmund. The Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz law in Germany means people have to turn 16 before they are allowed to play in the Bundesliga, and they have to turn 17 by January 1 of that season.
The law would mean that Moukoko could not feature for the first-team until the 2021-22 campaign, given he was born in November 2004.
Laws in Germany prevent him playing for the first-team but that could soon change
But a call-up for Germany’s Under 19s would qualify him to play in the the Bundesliga.
After 35 goals in 26 appearances this season and 90 goals in 56 competitive matches for Dortmund’s U17s, turning him into a member of the first-team set-up is on manager Lucien Favre’s mind.
‘We have a plan with him, but I can’t say exactly when he’ll join us,’ said Favre. ‘Maybe in March, but we still have to wait on a few things.’
One of those things is now, of course, the coronavirus pandemic that has caused chaos across the globe.
Lucien Favre has suggested he wants Moukoko to join the first-team group in the near future
Germany manager Joachim Low has also kept abreast of his development. ‘I’ve been speaking to [BVB U19 coach] Michael Skibbe for a while,’ he revealed. ‘Everyone involved is well advised to wait and let him develop in peace.’
Ricken recently discussed him joining the first-team group: ‘It’s about giving Youssoufa the option of playing in the Bundesliga at 16.
‘By the end of this season, so about three years in the U17 and U19 teams, he will have scored 120 to 130 goals in the Junior Bundesliga.
‘So it makes sense to take him to the highest level. We don’t want to make the burden of expectation that he’s already carrying any heavier than it already is.
The forward has scored so many goals at youth level that he has already broken records
‘Youssoufa is an exceptional talent who was exposed to a lot of hype at a very young age, and still is.’
He could yet break records. Nuri Sahin is the youngest player in Bundesliga history after making his bow at 16 years and 335 days. Moukoko has plenty of time to get in ahead of him.
The only issue now is that Erling Haaland is playing so well that opportunities for a debut might be few and far between. At least Moukoko knows the pathway is there, given how Dortmund have handled the Norwegian, Jadon Sancho and Gio Reyna.
There are now also no suggestions that the 15-year-old has lied about his age. The German FA dug into it and came away from a series of meetings with Dortmund convinced he was as young as he said.
It goes back to that playground excuse. Thankfully, everyone has realised he is just that good.
Moukoko could soon be joining the likes of Erling Haaland in the Dortmund first-team
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