Wunderkids: Building football’s most exciting young XI – week 11: Youssoufa Moukoko
It is the stuff of management dreams – a blank cheque to build the most exciting young starting XI in world football.
The Wunderkids team, in conjunction with BBC Sport, have come up with 11 players – and presenter Steve Crossman has been joined by experts to discuss the latest inclusion.
The criteria are simple – each player must be young and have the potential to become the next superstar in their position.
We have not been going for the obvious names – Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland or Jadon Sancho – but players who are still on the verge of making the breakthrough into the big time.
In this week’s final episode, we complete our starting XI with a Dortmund striker who is described by Crossman as “the wonderkid behind the wonderkid” at the German club – 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko.
And if you want to look at those to have made our XI so far – including Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez, Bayer Leverkusen winger Florian Wirtz and Barcelona midfielder Gavi – just scroll to the bottom of this page.
The player to fill Haaland’s boots at Dortmund?
With the talents of 21-year-old Haaland already well known, the Norway striker is too mainstream for our Wunderkids series.
Instead, we have selected another Dortmund forward in the shape of Germany youth international Moukoko.
The Cameroon-born frontman, who has endured racist abuse and had to deal with doubts about his age during an exciting rise, has so far seen his path to the Dortmund first team blocked by Haaland.
But Moukoko could be the player to benefit if his much-coveted team-mate does leave for Manchester City or Real Madrid this summer.
Born in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde and raised by his grandparents, Moukoko moved to Germany aged 10. Living with his father Joseph in Hamburg, he pitched up at local club St Pauli soon after.
Although he did not have any football boots, Moukoko did have serious talent. He dazzled everyone in his first training session with his finishing skills – despite wearing running trainers – and soon started scoring plenty of goals in St Pauli’s under-13s team.
That attracted scouts from other clubs and, aged 14, he moved to Dortmund.
The teenager scored an astonishing 127 goals in just 84 games for their under-17 and under-19 sides, prompting then first-team manager Lucien Favre to promote Moukoko to the senior squad for the 2020-21 season.
Only eligible to play competitive matches once he turned 16 in November 2020, the forward has since scored four goals in 26 first-team appearances – although he has featured largely from the bench.
What does the expert say?
Patrick Berger, German journalist and chief reporter for SPORT1 television
Haaland is a very big fan of Moukoko. He said he has never seen such a good 15-year-old, adding when he was 15 he wasn’t as good as him.
The key for Moukoko is to be more patient and chill a bit, be cool, because he puts a lot of pressure on himself.
He’s doing a lot and he wants to achieve his dreams – he has big, big dreams. He has already spoken about how he wants to win the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or.
I think he is mentally strong enough, but he needs to adapt and needs a little bit of time – which is normal.
He has had to deal with racist abuse and also something which lots of young Africans have to deal with – when people question his age.
This was a very big problem for him. Like most young people, he reads everything that people write in the media and on social media, and I know it was hard for him because people in Germany and Europe didn’t trust he was his age.
It was very unfair. There are documents that show his age and, when you see and speak to him, you see he is just 17.
It was very hard for him, but there were a lot of people – his agent Patrick Williams, his father Joseph, friends like Gio Reyna and Jadon Sancho – who helped him a lot.
Where will he be in four or five years’ time? When we are talking about that, he will be at the age that Haaland is now – and Haaland is still very young.
So Moukoko has plenty of time to develop. He should stay at Borussia Dortmund and has his whole career ahead of him.
What does the fan say?
Sandra Goldschmidt, a Dortmund supporter since 1993 who runs the Buzz09 fan app
Everyone in Dortmund is really excited about Moukoko because he has everything you need to be a successful striker.
We’ve seen him score with his head, with his left foot, with his right foot and from about every position.
Having said that, I don’t think he is quite ready to replace Haaland on a full-time basis. Haaland has been injured quite a lot this season and when Moukoko did get a chance he wasn’t quite up to first-team football.
Sadly, he has also suffered a few injuries himself. But, of course, you can’t forget about his youth team record for the under-17s and under-19s where he scored a crazy amount of goals.
Who else made our Wunderkids XI?
- Week 10: Jurrien Timber, Ajax defender
- Week 9: Jamal Musiala, Bayern Munich midfielder
- Week 8: Etienne Green, Saint-Etienne goalkeeper
- Week 7: Josko Gvardiol, RB Leipzig defender
- Week 6: Kamaldeen Sulemana, Rennes winger
- Week 5: Gavi, Barcelona midfielder
- Week 4: Kaiky, Santos defender
- Week 3: Ryan Gravenberch, Ajax defender
- Week 2: Florian Wirtz, Bayer Leverkusen winger
- Week 1: Julian Alvarez, Manchester City striker