Since their controversial arrival in the Bundesliga in 2016, Rasenballsport Leipzig have stuck fairly rigidly to a transfer policy which sees them only really signing players under the age of 24, developing them at the club and then selling them on for a large profit. Think Naby Keita, Timo Werner and you have the picture.
All of these players have been signed from outside the confines of the club and as of yet, the Saxony club haven’t borne any fruit from their own youth academy. Could that be about to change this season with the first crop of young bulls ready to stake a claim for a place in Julian Nagelsmann’s first-team squad?
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Nagelsmann is no stranger to blooding young talent. During his time at Hoffenheim the likes of Dennis Geiger, Robin Hack and Christoph Baumgartner were all given a first chance in the first team under his guidance. Leipzig have invested in their own youth academy and recently sent Frederik Jäkel out on a two-year loan to Belgian side KV Oostende. Mads Bidstrup has been sold to Brentford in England, while Norwegian U-19 international Noah Jean Holm has been sold to Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes.
There are however four players in particular who are hoping to take the next step at the Red Bull Arena next season.
18-year-old striker Borkowski became the first of Leipzig’s own graduates to make a first-team appearance when he came on for the last nine minutes of their final game of the season against Augsburg. With the U-19 side this season he scored 11 goals in 16 appearances.
At six foot, he has a similar stature to Czech striker Patrik Schick, and he will be hoping to get the chance to increase his first team experience next season. The signing of Hwang Hee-chan to replace Timo Werner means he is still way down the pecking order, but he is very much on Nagelsmann’s radar and one to watch next season.
Another player to make a brief (4 minutes) appearance on the last day of the season was defensive midfielder Tom Krauß who replaced Tyler Adams late in the game. The right-footed 19-year-old had already been called into the matchday squad on a number of occasions, but it was only against the Fuggerstädter that he got onto the pitch.
“Tom Krauß has spent a while with us in the Hinrunde” Nagelsmann explained. “In the pre-season he was very good and then fell into a bit of a hole- that’s normal for such a young player.”
The club are considering whether it would be best to send him out on loan to a 2. Bundesliga side to gather experience as his chances of game time in the Leipzig midfield are slim.
18-year-old Eric Martel has just signed his first professional contract with RB Leipzig having made himself an important part of the A Junior side. He has agreed a deal that will commit him to the club until 2023.
Martel joined the club in 2017 from Jahn Regensburg’s youth team and made 19 appearances in the U-19 Bundesliga as well as 6 appearances in the UEFA Youth League.
Hartmann is currently recuperating from a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered back in April, but those in the know at RB have earmarked the teenage striker for a bright future (hopefully at the Red Bull Arena). Despite the serious injury, he was offered a contract until 2023.
He does boast one minute of first team action after coming on as a late, late substitute back in Leipzig’s July 2018 Europa League qualifier against Swedish side BK Häken.