Teen prodigy Youssoufa Moukoko could become the youngest debutant in Bundesliga history this weekend as Borussia Dortmund hint that the German goal-scoring sensation may make his senior debut the day after his 16th birthday.
If he plays at Hertha Berlin on Saturday evening, Moukoko will set a new Bundesliga record having already sent goal records tumbling in German youth football.
“I read what the media write, but I don’t put any pressure on myself,” Moukoko told Dortmund’s website in a rare interview during which the club hinted he could feature in Berlin.
Even if his league debut comes only in the following weeks, the confident teen is “not worried - I know I will make my debut at some point”.
Nuri Sahin, whose record is under threat by Moukoko, wants to see the teen make his Bundesliga debut, because “the Under-19s is too easy for him”.
Sahin, now 32, was 16 years, 335 days when he made his Dortmund debut in 2005, giving Moukoko ample time to break the record.
Moukoko could also make his Champions League debut this autumn to break the record of Celestine Babayaro, who was 16 years, 87 days when he played for Anderlecht in the 1994/95 group stages.
Moukoko has already trained with Dortmund’s first team on the back of his goal-scoring feats for the youth team.
Despite often facing opponents four years his senior, the robust 15-year-old is captain of Dortmund’s U19 team and has scored 13 goals in just four games so far this season.
His stats are part of a mind-blowing total of 47 goals with 10 assists in just 25 matches for Dortmund U19s over two seasons.
Dortmund are doing their best to shield the Cameroon-born teen from the hype – all interview requests are denied – but his name is already well known at the top of German football.
“Youssoufa Moukoko has a talent that you don’t come across that often,” commented Germany coach Joachim Loew.
Moukoko already has more than 700,000 followers on Instagram and a sponsorship deal with Nike.
He was born in Yaounde, Cameroon, and moved to Hamburg, his father’s home city, in 2014 where he first started playing for St Pauli’s junior side.
In 2016, he switched to Dortmund’s youth academy, where he started breaking goal-scoring records, sparking unfounded doubts over his age.
As a 13-year-old at the start of 2017/18, he banged in 40 goals in 28 games for Dortmund Under-17s including the winning goal in the play-off final against Bayern Munich.
He topped that with 50 goals in 28 games in 2018/19, including 46 in the league to set a new youth record at Under-17 level.
Last season he moved up to Dortmund’s Under-19s just before his 15th birthday and dismissed doubts about his ability at the higher level with six goals on his stunning debut in a 9-2 demolition of Wuppertal.
He finished 2019/20 with 38 goals in 28 games and talk of a Bundesliga debut soon started.
“We would all do well to watch Youssoufa’s developement in a relaxed fashion with a bit of patience,” said German FA sports director Joti Chatzialexiou optimistically.
Yet the teen, who has already played for the Germany Under-20s, is already showing maturity beyond his years.
Last month, Moukoko scored a hat-trick as Dortmund’s Under-19 side beat Schalke 3-2, but his brilliant display was overshadowed by racist abuse from home supporters in Gelsenkirchen.
Schalke apologised to Dortmund and Moukoko, who responded by taking a knee after scoring in his next game to join the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest.
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