As we look into the future of football, we cast a spotlight on the best young players who could dominate the game in the years to come. Join us as we check out the future stars of tomorrow - Youssoufa Moukoko might very well be the next big thing.
Born in Yaoundé to Joseph and Marie Moukoko, Youssoufa spent the first 10 years of his life growing up in the Cameroonian capital. His father had been living and working in Germany since the 90s and registered his birth at the German embassy in Cameroon soon after he was born.
As a result, the football prodigy has dual nationality and is eligible to represent both countries, although he has so far elected to turn out for the German youth-level teams.
Moukoko’s footballing journey began at the age of 11, when he was sent to Germany to live with his father and subsequently joined up with the FC St. Pauli developmental program. The story goes that he only had trainers when he turned up to his first training session and had to borrow boots from a teammate.
Nevertheless, Moukoko’s progress at St Pauli was so swift (21 goals in 12 games for the Under-15s) that Borussia Dortmund took notice and quickly came calling, snapping him up before his 12th birthday.
The striker’s rise through the ranks has been nothing short of meteoric since, as he continued to break scoring records at every level (141 goals in 88 games for the Under-17 and Under-19 teams), and was even invited to start training with the BVB first team aged only 15.
Moukoko made international headlines on 21 November 2020 when he came on as an 85th minute substitute for Dortmund, becoming the youngest player ever to make his Bundesliga debut, breaking the previous record set by former BVB playmaker Nuri Şahin.
Further records have since fallen too, including the youngest debutant in a Champions League game and the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history.
The teenager has been capped up at Under-21 level for Germany so far, and currently wears the no. 18 shirt for Borussia Dortmund.
In a nutshell
With his low centre of gravity, deadly left foot, and short stature, Moukoko has been compared to none other than Lionel Messi. While there is still a long way to go before he can hope to reach such rarified air, the youngster’s potential already has many of Europe’s biggest clubs on alert.
The striker possesses clever movement off the ball that allows him to get into ideal goal-scoring positions, and likes to utilise his pace in central areas to create 1-on-1 opportunities with the opposition goalkeeper.
He often elects for placement over power, with many of his goals coming via low shots rather than top corner finishes.
What they’ve said
“Youssoufa has always liked Lionel Messi. We also often watched the games from the top European leagues or the Champions League together. That was always wonderful.” - Borel Moukoko, Youssoufa's brother who plays for Apejes FC
“He's already really good. I played with Toni Kroos, Mario Götze and Christian Pulisic when they were 16 or 17, and Youssoufa is definitely one of the best players I've played with at that age.” - Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund defender
“It makes me happy that it’s one of our players. When the new rule came out, I quickly realised that my record would soon be broken.” - Nuri Şahin, former Dortmund, Liverpool and Read Madrid midfielder
“Moukoko's much better than I was at his age. I've never seen such a good 15-year-old in my life. The advantage for him is that he's already playing for Dortmund at the age of 15. At his age, I was still playing for my home town of Bryne” - Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund striker and already the Next Big Thing