Where on earth do they keep getting them from? Alex Chaffer introduces you to the latest whizz-kids in Germany you need to know about...
Germany’s World Cup win, coupled with their Under-19s claiming Euros glory in Hungary this summer, has once again reminded the world of their enviable production line.
Fourteen of Germany’s 23 players in Brazil were under 25, and with plenty more youngsters set to shine in the Bundesliga next season, FFT brings you five more who'll have the eyes of the Premier League's elite watching closely.
Who is he?
Schalke’s latest wunderkind has torn apart Germany’s U17 and U19 leagues over the last three seasons. Having trained with the first team for pre-season this summer, the 17-year-old will be itching to make his mark on the Bundesliga in 2014/15.
Germany’s 1996-born group is being tipped to refresh the top flight with even more talented stars over the coming years, with the likes of Timo Werner, Jonathan Tah and Julian Brandt already making their mark. Avdijaj is next in line.
Why you need to know him
It’s hard not to take a second look at a scoring record as strong as Avdijaj’s in Schalke’s youth team. Fifty-nine goals and 15 assists in 53 U17 appearances earned him a year with the U19s, where he broke records: 44 goals and 13 assists in 25 games (a goal every 47 minutes) for the older age group earned him training time with the seniors, and international recognition with Germany’s U17s (where he also has 10 goals in 13 matches).
At 5ft 7in, he’s not your modern day Bundesliga striker, with the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Mario Mandzukic and Edin Dzeko flourishing in recent years at over 6ft. Avdijaj makes up for his lack of height with his mesmerisingly quick feet and impressive balance.
He was one of three Schalke stars who put pen to paper on professional contracts with the club last season, nullifying interest from Liverpool. Best mate and fellow futsal extraordinaire Max Meyer believes the 17-year-old will become one of Germany’s best, and Schalke manager Jens Keller agrees. “Donis has enough quality to make the same impact as Max,” he said.
By signing, Avdijaj became Schalke’s most valuable player without having played a single minute of first-team football. He extended his three-year deal to five in February, coupled with a €50 million release clause – €5m more than Julian Draxler. “Talent comes with a price, and we want to keep our most talented stars,” chimed Schalke's general manager Horst Heldt to Bild.
Who does he remind you of?
As a smaller goalscoring forward, Michael Owen. His smooth skills have seen him compared with Robinho, and Barcelona's Pedro for his pace.
Would be perfect for
Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea.