In football, there are few things as exciting as a young striker who scores goals for fun.
For Borussia Dortmund, they’ve decided that one lean, mean goalscoring machine – yes, we’re talking about Erling Haaland – isn’t enough, they want more.
Enter, Youssoufa Moukoko.
A player who has shattered goalscoring records at every youth level imaginable, before stepping up to Dortmund’s first team when he was literally still an official baby. If, somehow, you don’t know very much about Moukoko, it’s probably worth doing some swatting before he becomes one of the best players in the world.
To help you do that, why don’t you tuck into some things to know about his career to date.
Moukoko may have risen to prominence at Dortmund, but the first couple of years of his young career were spent at St Pauli.
Playing for their Under-13 side, he scored 23 goals in just 13 games – inevitably impressing watching scouts from some of Germany’s top sides. It was BVB who liked what they saw most, and he was on the move not long after he’d finished his first year of high school.
All logic suggests that Moukoko shouldn’t have been as talented as he was at a young age.
So instead of accepting that he was just great at football, many decided that he must be at least a few years older than he claimed to be.
There have been past examples of African natives lying about their age in the past, but the Cameroon-born Moukoko is not one of them. The German Football Association even had their doubts but, after extensive meetings with Dortmund, they confirmed that Moukoko’s age is correct.
Moukoko ended the 2018/19 season by scoring a hat-trick in the first half of Dortmund Under-17s meeting with Duisburg – the sixth time he had bagged a treble.
Okay, so that sounds pretty impressive in its own right, but factor in that he was just 14 at the time and he’d already scored four goals in one game on three different occasions and you begin to understand just how talented he was/is/will be.
Throw into the mix that when he was 12 (yes, 12), Moukoko netted twice – in this age group – against Schalke and things just start to get a little bit silly.
Though Moukoko was born in Cameroon, his father was a Hamburg resident and German citizen since the mid 1990s.
Moukoko spent the early years of his childhood in the country of his birth, before moving to Germany in 2014 to begin his footballing odyssey with St Pauli.
He’s eligible to represent both countries on the international stage, but perhaps unsurprisingly it’s Germany who have got the nod at youth level – he’s played for both Die Mannschaft at Under-16 and Under-20 to date.
Inevitably, Moukoko’s insane goalscoring record was hard to keep under wraps, so there was a clamour about the game’s biggest brands to tie him down to a sponsorship deal.
Up stepped Nike with a €10m contract, with Bild stating that he became a millionaire once he put pen to paper. €1m of that deal was stumped up just for signing, and a further €9m can be pocketed if he hits the heights that are expected of him.
Moukoko’s goalscoring prowess reached new heights when he netted six goals for BVB in an Under-19 Bundesliga game against Wuppertaler SV – a game Dortmund won 9-2.
Such form prompted many to argue that he was ready for a first team breakthrough. However, Bundesliga rules at the time stipulated that a player had to be at least 16 years old before they could feature in competitive games, as long as they turned 17 before January 1 of the season in question.
Even then, Germany’s Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz law prevents players of that age from working past 8pm, unless they obtain special permission from government officials.
Moukoko was allowed to begin training with BVB’s first team in January 2020 – aged 15 – after an amendment to said laws, though he still couldn’t play until he’d turned 16.
If people within the game weren’t convinced by Moukoko, they should have tried listening to Barcelona – as they were super keen to take him over to their famed La Masia academy.
Mundo Deportivo previously reported that La Blaugrana had been monitoring his development, despite the best efforts of Dortmund’s officials to conceal his progress and hide him from the limelight.
Fortunately for BVB, Barça aren’t the best run club in the world, and slightly bigger problems materialised – leaving Moukoko to carry on doing his thing in Germany.
After spending the best part of a year training with Lucien Favre and co, Moukoko turned 16 and was immediately named in Dortmund’s matchday squad for the game against Hertha BSC.
Just a day after becoming eligible, he came off the bench to replace some guy called Haaland – becoming the youngest player to ever feature in the Bundesliga, a record previously held by BVB alumni Nuri Sahin.
The game finished 5-2 to Dortmund, though he wasn’t able to cap a dream debut with a goal.
Not content with breaking domestic records, Moukoko became the youngest player to ever compete in the Champions League when he came on as a substitute at Zenit St. Petersburg.
A week later, he earned his first Bundesliga start against Werder Bremen, before he opened his goalscoring account against Union Berlin three days after that.
In doing so, he broke another record – becoming the youngest ever Bundesliga goalscorer at the ripe old age of 16 years and 28 days.