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Bundesliga

Christian Pulisic, Niklas Süle and the Bundesliga wonderkids set to step up

The Bundesliga has long been an incubator of young talent and this season looks to be no different. Niklas Süle has a huge task, Christian Pulisic's meteoric rise needs to continue and Oliver Burke has plenty to do.

Oliver Burke

For a man who had made less than 30 appearances in the English second tier, Oliver Burke's arrival in Germany was greeted with an enormous amount of hype. The Scottish winger rejected Premier League offers to became Leipzig's joint record signing last pre-season (along with Naby Keita) in an unusual move for a British youngster that drew some criticism.

Watch video 05:42

Why? Oliver Burke, why RB Leipzig?

“He’s gone over to Germany and I can’t understand that, to be honest with you. I think that stinks of agents more than anything else,” said former Wales striker John Hartson. The fast, direct winger enjoyed a dream debut, setting up Keita to score the winner in Leipzig's first Bundesliga home game against Borussia Dortmund and silencing a few critics.

But that was really as good as it got. Burke failed to complete 90 minutes in the league season, scoring just once and registering only one further assist. He particularly struggled when playing up front, his bustling style making him uncomfortable with his back to goal. At 20 he has time to work on his raw talent but even RB Leipzig will expect a greater return on their investment this time round.

Christian Pulisic

An 18-year-old making 43 appearances for a top flight league side is remarkable. An 18-year-old attacker making 43 appearances for a team with designs on the Bundesliga and Champions League seems almost far-fetched.

But that was the case for Christian Pulisic, as the diminutive, tricky American broke through at Borussia Dortmund, with a series of startlingly assured displays that caught the attention of the world, particularly the United States, a country that has long sought a true star of the world game.

Thomas Tuchel increasingly trusted the teen towards the end of his reign – handing him a start in the critical home leg of the Champions League last 16 tie with Benfica and minutes in both legs of Dortmund's quarterfinal exit to Monaco. New man Peter Bosz's work with youngsters at Ajax suggests he'll also be an advocate of the Pennsylvanian. A goal in the Super Cup loss (on penalties) to Bayern Munich certainly won't do his first team prospects any harm.

"Last year was a good step for my development," he said in pre-season. "It was my first full year as a professional, I want to build on that. I want to score goals and be dangerous on the pitch. I don't feel the pressure from fans or media. Only I can put pressure on myself, but I'm trying to keep a lid on things as much as possible. We’re ready to challenge Bayern for the title."

Niklas Süle

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v Hertha BSC - Bundesliga Fußball Spieler Niklas Süle (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Grimm)

Niklas Süle waved goodbye to Hoffenheim to join Bayern

Winning an international tournament with your country and sealing a move to Bayern Munich, not a bad summer's work. Niklas Süle's signature was in high demand before he flew to the Confederations Cup with Germany but despite strong interest from English champions Chelsea, the mainstay of Hoffenheim's vastly improved backline last year only had eyes for Bavaria: "There was interest from Chelsea, but Bayern are among the top three clubs in the world so I didn't have to think about it long,' Süle told German newspaper Bild at the time.

The one snag may be the men in front of him. Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng are a formidable partnership at club and international level. Both have had their injury issues and Süle, 21, may need to be patient, but he's quick, strong, composed and seems set to be a defensive rock for Bavarians for a decade or more.

Kai Havertz

Deutschland Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga (Getty Images/Bongarts/M. Kern)

Kai Havertz (l) has been a record breaker for Leverkusen

The youngest man on this list is another German prodigy with huge hopes on his shoulders. Last season, at 17, he became Bayer Leverkusen's youngest ever Bundesliga debutant, youngest Bundesliga goalscorer, created the league's 50,000th goal for Karim Bellarabi and completed his high school exams.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I see it going so well for me on a personal level, when I think back to this time last year," Havertz said after scoring twice in Leverkusen's 6-2 hammering of Hertha Berlin on the last day of last season. "I could have had a hat-trick! It gives me a lot of confidence for next season."

Now 18, Havertz may need that confidence at Leverkusen, who start the season under their eighth coach in nine years – Heiko Herrlich – and shorn of the attacking talents of Hakan Calhanoglu and Chicharito. Their departures may provide more opportunities for the crafty attacking midfielder with an eye for goal and his on-pitch relationship with fellow youngster Julian Brandt (21) could lift a few of the grey clouds that have lingered over the Werkself in recent times.

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Daily Kick: Who is the next wunderkind?

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