It cannot be said that Borussia Dortmund aren’t prepared to give youth a chance. Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland are already both key members of Lucien Favre’s side, while the Swiss coach was also keen last season on giving first team minutes to Giovanni Reyna, Mateu Morey and Leonardo Balerdi. They have 15-year-old wonderkid Youssoufa Moukoko waiting in the wings, but the Schwarzgelben have another potential gem waiting for his chance next season- Ansgar Knauff.
The 18-year-old right winger has recently been called up to train with the first team after a hugely impressive season last year with the U-19’s. Without wanting to put too much pressure on his young shoulders, BVB sporting director Michael Zorc admitted, “Knauff is a very talented, young offensive player with good speed and dribbling skills. Now he’s going to do the preparation first, then we’ll see what happens next.”
The youngster signed from Hannover’s academy in 2016 and has been grabbing the attention ever since (albeit in the shadow of the more explosive Moukoko). Knauff scored five goals and provided seven assists in his eighteen appearances for the U-19’s last season. He also made seven appearances in the UEFA Youth League scoring four times (including a brace against Inter).
He has understandably drawn early comparisons with Jadon Sancho due to his preferred position (right wing) and his style (pace and dribbling). While his chances of a first team breakthrough look a little limited right now, it could be that a gap opens up a little further back on the right with the departure of Achraf Hakimi meaning BVB are a little short of cover for Thomas Meunier. Seeing what Bayern achieved with converted winger Alphonso Davies as a full back must give Dortmund confidence that they can perhaps retrain a learned winger to play there.
There is a big difference between training with the first team and actually making the breakthrough as numerous youngsters have discovered, but remember the name, because if Sancho, Reyna, Morey, and Balerdi are anything to go by, we might be seeing Ansgar Knauff sooner rather than later if he can fulfil his potential.