Best young Germany players
Brief scouting reports on some of our favourite emerging German talents
After Das Reboot, Germany have turned into a powerhouse of youth development which has culminated in great success at senior and youth level. Here are reports on some of their emerging generation. Each cover their backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses.
More profiles can be found in the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers sections. Below, you’ll find profiles covering backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses, while providing links to where you can find out more about them.
For full in-depth analysis of some of the best young players from all over the planet, check out our profiles page. We have countlesss profiles on players there, focussing on a range of talents from across the world. There are also exclusive interviews too, and plenty more.
As a young teenager, Florian Wirtz was regarded locally as one of the best emerging youngsters in Nordrhein-Westfalen, the industrial heartland of Germany. Coming through 1. FC Köln’s youth set-up, he was poached unceremoniously by Bayer Leverkusen, who reneged on a gentleman’s agreement between clubs in that region not to pilfer each other’s youngsters.
He’s since broken through as one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting young talents, playing regularly for the senior German side in the process. An ACL injury in the early months of 2022 means that he’s likely to miss this year’s World Cup.
Florian Wirtz's style of play
Wirtz is a jet; he’s quick, agile, intelligent and knows where the goal is. He’s an attacking midfielder with poise, clarity and refined end product.
He’s capable of executing nice touches between lines, combining well with team-mates in tight spaces throughout the final third and seems altogether undisturbed by playing at the very top level despite being just 18 years of age – he’s so calm making plays under pressure even though he’s relatively inexperienced.
There’s such variety to the way he creates chances as well, which again is another reason his output will remain high. Whether it’s passes from open play, dribbles into the final third, one-twos on the edge of the penalty area or even pressuring opponents into making mistakes high up the pitch – he’s all action, already, and knows how to turn it into good value chances either for himself or his teammates.
Positionally, he’s rather hard to define owing to his fluidity and freedom in Leverkusen’s attacking setup. Wirtz asks questions of flat-footed defenders with his ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude to ball progression, even if his execution isn’t always finely tuned.
Florian Wirtz is a creative hub around the penalty area. His clever movement and vision between lines means he gets on the ball and moves it into dangerous areas. He works hard off the ball to find those spaces, as well as pressure high turnovers.
Given his size and shape, Botman can struggle when dragged into one-on-one isolation scenarios where his lack of agility and mobility can be exposed.
After a few league appearances for SC Freiburg in 2019, Nico Schlotterbeck was sent on loan to 1. FC Union Berlin, and it was in the capital where the Schwabian really broke out. He put together an impressive season, battling with injuries along the way.
Upon returning to Freiburg in the summer of 2021, he was immediately integrated into Christian Streich’s first-team and has swent from strength to strength in a team that exceeded expectations.
That breakout season predicated a milestone transfer to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2022, where he is now a guaranteed starter with plenty more years to come playing at the highest levels.
Nico Schlotterbeck's style of play
So far in his senior career, Schlotterbeck has played largely on the left-side of a back three, both at Union and now Freiburg. Playing in such a system enables him to make the most of his mobility as a progressor and defender.
He’s a good size and shape for a defender; standing at 1.91 metres, his frame is lean and athletic. He’s a fluid mover that can shift his feet and switch direction sharply, enabling him to be the proactive defender that he is.
As part of a back three, Schlotterbeck has license to be more aggressive in approach. He steps up to engage opponents regularly, utilising his reading of the game to nip in ahead of attackers to impact the ball. He’s also pretty strong in the air, with good conviction and timing in technique.
He’s also aggressive in possession, not least in the way he carries the ball into midfield, driving down the left-side channel into higher areas of the pitch. Schlotterbeck is also a talented passer, especially when smacking switch passes to the opposite wing with his left foot.
All in all, Schlotterbeck has the profile and skillset to be a Champions League-level defender for the next decade or so.
Nico Schlotterbeck is an adaptable defender with dynamic mobility, technical quality and unerring confidence. He defends effectively in pretty much every situation and is a high-level ball-player from the back with an excellent range of passing and aggressive ball-carrying.
One of Nico Schlotterbeck’s few weaknesses is he can be too aggressive at times, getting sucked into defensive situations that he shouldn’t. He can also be too ambitious with his pass selection.
Lukas Nmecha has always had pedigree. Once a Manchester City youth product and Under-19 Euro winner with England, then a loanee with Preston North End, Wolfsburg, and Middlesbrough it took a little while for his career to kick into gear until a strong loan spell with Anderlecht. Liking what they saw again, Wolfsburg decided to bring him back to Germany, signing him permanently in the summer of 2021.
He’s blown hot and cold since returning to Germany, impressing in spells and scoring some good goals for an inconsistent Wolfsburg side.
Lukas Nmecha's style of play
Nmecha’s goalscoring form has been rewarded at international level, but not with an England cap, but with an Under-21 Euro win with Germany and his first senior international cap after he decided to switch his allegiance.
He has truly deserved it. He continues to emerge as an athlete at senior level, combining his physicality with an underrated ability to move into the channel and be highly functional in those spaces.
He does not turn this into dominance in the air though, which is a key area where he will need to improve should his team try to use him as more of a focal point. At Wolfsburg though, this is normally Wout Weghorst.
But for what he is, Nmecha is really good. He continues to improve his goal output off the back of some really good ball striking technique, though he needs to continue to get into easier goalscoring positions to maximise his output.
Lukas Nmecha is a dynamic forward that can do a lot of things – he has the skill to link play, athleticism to stretch into channels and technique to score goals.
Lukas Nmecha still has room to develop as a goalscorer, becoming a more consistent finisher and finding ‘simpler’ goals to score. He needs to impose his skillset on games more consistently.
Bayern München’s Jamal Musiala is Germany’s best young players right now. After that, Nico Schlotterbeck has the potential to be a cornerstone of high-level domestic and international teams for the next decade.
Everyone should know the protagonists in German youth development – they include Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04, VfB Stuttgart, and, of course, FC Bayern München. SC Freiburg are also a club that develop young players, both from their own academy and elsewhere.