Top-level sports is returning for the first time on the 16th since quarantine. The Bundesliga, Germany’s top football league, is returning into action with no spectators. One thing that the Bundesliga is known for is its recruitment of talent from North America. The top young Canadian talent, Alphonso Davies, is a Bayern Munich player and just signed a 5-year contract extension. Davies is the last in a long string of talent that has come through the league, however. The majority of which originated in the USA. Christian Pulisic started his young career in Germany before making a big-money move to England. Lots of young and prime American talents still play in the German league and this is a preview of some of the top players to look out for.
Tyler Adams, Center-Mid for RB Leipzig
Tyler Adams is a young, 21-year old midfielder who plays for the 3rd place team in the league currently. Tyler Adams is one of many young players on the team and is representing the USA for a team with both Domestic and Continental ambitions. This experience is going to be immense for him later in his career. You will see him play in a 2-man midfield with RB Leipzig with one other partner in the midfield. The coach often uses multiple pairings of Tyler Adams along with a rotation of players depending on the opponent. Against teams that he fears his team will be overwhelmed, he may pair a defensive player with Adams and have Adams push forward. Other games, he may opt to secure possession and keep Adams as an insurance player and distributor of the ball while his midfield partner assumes the offensive roles. Adams is far more capable currently as a defensive player than an offensive player, but his offensive game is not to be undermined. He has great off the ball movement and while he can’t shoot or dribble at a high level, he gets into dangerous positions for his teammates to pass the ball to him. His ability to read the game like that and anticipate openings is an invaluable skill that opens a lot of potential for a young player.
Weston McKinnie, Midfielder for Schalke 04
Weston McKinnie, 21 years old, is the cream of the crop when it comes to the players on this list. When Shalke first brought him up for the first team in 2016/17, the manager said that he actually did not think McKinnie was ready for the German league at such a young age. However, he could not leave a player with “that much versatility” behind on the squad list. McKinnie’s first appearance in a game that season was actually at center defender. He played admirably there, but due to an injury in the midfield, he had to sub on for 40 minutes. He played a lot better when being put in the midfield position because he saw the ball more and was more effective with it. The coach got really excited after this and just said screw it and played the 18-year-old at striker. They ended up losing the game, but McKinnie played really well. In the end, McKinnie and his coach have agreed that they will try to turn McKinnie into a box to box midfielder. While it seems like he has nailed down his position (finally), I am not convinced.
Many young players dream of becoming box to box midfielders, but it is the most difficult role to master in football. You need to be a good defensive midfielder and also have good technical skills with the ball to help in attack. It is the ‘master of none, but a jack of all trades’ role of football. The problem with trying to pursue this at a young age is that development is often hampered by being stretched too thin. The player is given an overload of technique and drills that is oftentimes overwhelming and hampers the player’s development. Box to box midfielders is also usually a big physical presence whereas McKinnie is a mere 6’1″ and 185 lbs.
Giovanni Reyna, Winger for Bourussia Dortmund
Giovanni Reyna is the youngest player on the list at only 17 years of age. Despite this, he plays for the 2nd most notorious club in Germany. They currently stand in 2nd place but are in no way safe from the teams below. Reyna is a substitute player for Dortmund at the moment. He will play against weaker Bundesliga teams or when they are nursing a lead late in games. Dortmund is the perfect situation for a young prodigy as they currently have an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old as their two best players. Jadon Sancho of English descent and Erling Haaland of Norwegian descent are currently the top players for Dortmund. Sancho is expected to make a big-money move in the next season or two so Reyna is ripe to replace him. Reyna is the future of the US National Team on offense. He and Pulisic should be playing up top together for years to come for this golden generation.
Honorable Mention: Zach Steffen (Dusseldorf): #1 Goalie for USA, got injured on first day of practice (6 weeks), Josh Sargent (Werder Berman), John Brooks (Hertha), Fabian Johnson (Monchengladbach)
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