The Bundesliga is the league where stars are made.
German football has long had a reputation of producing some of the greatest youngsters in world football: so much so, that British players have headed over there in recent years for development.
But it's also a place that plenty of top stars ply their trade currently…
10. Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Tipped to be the future star of German football, 18-year-old Wirtz had been in sensational form until tearing his cruciate ligament in early February (something which has cost him a few places on this list).
The playmaker had registered seven goals and 10 Bundesliga assists by that stage and looked as if he’d been playing top-flight football for a decade. Wirtz has the balance, vision and eye for goal to become one of the greatest players in the world.
9. Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen)
Best known on these shores for scoring from his own half against Scotland at Euro 2020, Czech Republic striker Schick took his tournament form (he was second top-scorer with five goals last summer) into this season. The Leverkusen striker has 20 goals in 21 Bundesliga appearances so far. A classic old school centre-forward, Schick is tall, quick, great in the air and can score with both feet.
8. Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen)
The €15m Leverkusen paid PSG for Diaby in 2019 appeared an expensive risk at the time. The then-19-year-old had shone in flashes for the French club but needed a little time to settle in Germany.
He’s since become one of the most dangerous attacking weapons in the Bundesliga, tearing teams to shreds with his pace, trickery and composure in front of goal. Sixteen goals and 11 assists in all competitions speak of a 22-year-old playing without a care in the world. Certain to be a name constantly in the transfer rumour mill this summer.
7. Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
It seems impossible that Bellingham is still just 18 years old. The former Birmingham City midfielder had been expected to gradually find his feet in German football before becoming a starter later down the line but has already played almost 100 games for Dortmund after immediately being thrown into first-team action.
Solid in possession and a pressing machine, there are few better young talents in world football.
6. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
No midfielder has a higher pass completion rate than Kimmich’s 88.6%. Bayern’s metronome is the heartbeat of his side, dictating tempo from deep and winning the ball back tenaciously when the Bundesliga juggernauts lose it.
The former right-back is a natural leader and a ferocious competitor despite his diminutive frame. Possibly the club’s least replaceable player.
5. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
The Bayern and Germany captain has had his wobbles in recent years (injury and terrible 2018 World Cup had many calling for his status as the Nationalmannschaft’s No.1) but is back to his imperious best.
His shot to save ratio of 72% is among the best in the top flight, but it’s his ability to prevent attempts in the first place that sets him apart. Neuer is the archetypal sweeper-keeper; the man credited with changing the game for glovemen everywhere.
4. Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)
Still the gold standard when it comes to creating goals for teammates. Muller tops the Bundesliga assists charts again this term, with 19, as his all-time record of 160 (57 more than anyone else) sails further into the distance. Chasing his 10th straight Mesiterschale this season, Muller simply is Bayern Munich.
3. Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)
The €13m RB Leipzig paid PSG for the French midfielder in 2019 looks more like daylight robbery with each passing week. Nkunku was good last year, but has taken his game to new heights this term.
His 16 goals in 28 Bundesliga appearances is an astonishing return for an attacking midfielder, and that’s before you add the seven he’s scored in six Champions League outings. The 24-year-old is a creative presence too, with 17 assists in all competitions. A remarkable player with a very bright future.
2. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
The Norwegian has been slightly off the boil lately, with injuries and transfer rumours apparently taking their toll. That being said, the BVB striker remains comfortably the second-best player in the league.
The 21-year-old has scored 23 goals in 24 appearances this season, and is the Bundesliga’s third-highest scorer, with 16, despite missing huge chunks of the campaign. Haaland has the speed, brute force and ice-cold finishing ability to become one of the greatest players of all time.
1. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
How could it be anyone else?
The man many feel should have won the Ballon d’Or for his exploits in 2021 has been unstoppable again this year. The Polish striker has 45 goals in 38 games this season, with 31 arriving in the Bundesliga.
He can score any type of goal; from tap-ins, to headers, to jaw-dropping acrobatic feats. The 33-year-old seems to get better with age, with Bayern still heavily reliant on his goals to break deep defences down. A phenomenon.
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Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Key FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.
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