With the Bundesliga getting a lot of praise for their age structure and the club’s handling of young players, let’s have a look at the league’s top rated players aged 23 or younger.
10. Lars Bender (Leverkusen) – 23 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.42
The twin brother of Dortmund’s Sven Bender plays an important role in central midfield in manager Hyypiä’s 4-3-3 system, and is one of the main reasons for Leverkusen’s success this season. He is a hard worker, who covers a lot of ground to both protect the defence and support the front three. Averaging 4.1 successful tackles per game, Bender ranks very highly in the Bundesliga in this department, showing his defensive capabilities. In terms of possession play, he averages 44.7 passes per game, including 1.2 key passes - a very good number for a player covering so much distance.
9. Bastian Oczipka (Frankfurt) – 23 years old
WhoScored rating: 7.45
2.8 tackles and 1.5 interceptions are rather average numbers for a full-back, but young German Bastian Oczipka interprets his role in a modern way and offers a lot to the attack. An average of 1.9 key passes and a Bundesliga high of 7 assists go some way to make up for his defensive deficiencies, though he will need to improve soon to make the next step.
8. Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Schalke) – 20 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.46
The centre-back position is one of the most difficult for young players, but Kyriakos Papadopoulos already shows a lot of maturity at his tender age. The Greek international averages a strong 3.7 successful tackles and 2.9 interceptions per game. A figure of 3.0 aerial duels won per game underlines his robustness and is impressive for a player of his size (183cm).
7. Daniel Carvajal (Leverkusen) – 20 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.46
Spanish right-back Daniel Carvajal arrived from Real Madrid’s Castilla ahead of the season and many questioned if he would be able to help Leverkusen immediately. Evidently, however, he is. In 15 appearances so far he’s made 3.4 successful tackles and 3.8 interceptions per game, which are very good numbers for a young full-back. Being solid and reliable defensively hasn’t, however, detracted from his threat on the attack, having already assisted 4 goals this season.
6. Marco Reus (Dortmund) – 23 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.51
After Shinji Kagawa left Dortmund in the summer, Marco Reus was brought in to replace the Japanese international. 6 goals and 5 assists in 16 games are a strong statement and the fans have quickly forgot about their former star. Reus averages 2.6 shots, 2.0 key passes and 1.6 successful dribbles per game, showing that he likes to shoot more often than Kagawa or his BVB companion Götze – a characteristic he has carried on from his days at Gladbach.
5. Milan Badelj (Hamburg) – 23 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.56
The young Croatian Milan Badelj is one of the main reasons for Hamburg’s improvement this season and the highest ranked defensive midfielder in the Bundesliga at the moment. 4.1 successful tackles and 3.5 interceptions per game are outstanding numbers and show his defensive capabilities. When in possession, Badelj averages 56.5 passes per game, including 1 key pass a match, showing the other side of his game. 2.5 successful dribbles per game further indicate his ability to protect the ball and create spaces in crowded areas in central midfield.
4. Mario Götze (Dortmund) – 20 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.60
As one of Germany’s most touted talents, Mario Götze has fulfilled his expectations this season so far, having scored 5 and assisted 3 goals in 14 games this season. The versatile attacking midfielder averages 1.6 shots, 2.1 key passes and 3.4 successful dribbles per game, proving that he can be productive after beating players to create chances for others. With more maturity this season, Götze also performs on a more consistent. basis
3. Toni Kroos (Bayern) – 22 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.67
At only 22 years of age, Toni Kroos is already one of the most important players in Bayern’s 4-2-3-1 system. As the central attacking midfielder, he often finds himself between the lines and links the deeper central midfielders with the attack. 6 goals and 5 assists from 2.3 shots and 2.6 key passes per game are very good numbers in 16 appearances so far and pass success rate of 90.3% in his position shows that he rarely makes mistakes.
2. Andre Schürrle (Leverkusen) – 22 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.68
The young German winger has started all of Leverkusen’s 16 Bundesliga games this season with 3 goals and 5 assists to his name so far. He averages 2.8 shots and 1.4 key passes a game, underlining his great attacking contribution. 3.1 successful dribbles per game also highlight Schürrle’s capability in one-on-one situations against opposing defenders, most successfully when cutting in from the left to have the ball on his stronger right foot.
1. Thomas Müller (Bayern) – 23 years old
WhoScored Rating: 7.93
With Arjen Robben struggling with injuries again, Thomas Müller has had an impressive season on the right wing, having scored 9 and assisted 7 goals in 15 Bundesliga games so far. Müller averages an outstanding 3.1 shots and 2.3 key passes per game, ranking him highly in both departments and showing his worth as a scorer, as well as a provider.