Sweet 16: How Germany's Bundesliga wants to lower minimum age limit

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Sweet 16: How Germany's Bundesliga wants to lower minimum age limit
Young football player Youssoufa Moukoko, who turns 16 in November. Photo: DPA

The German Football League (DFL) is proposing to lower the minimum age for players in the Bundesliga to 16 next season, with a decision expected at the end of March.


In order to currently play in Germany's top flight, players must be 18 years old or play for the club's Under-19 team, but the DFL are considering changing that, according to reports.

Turkey international Nuri Sahin holds the record, set in August 2005, when he made his league debut for Dortmund, just shy of his  17th birthday, aged 16 years, 335 days, while playing in the Under-19 team.

However, from next season other 16-year-olds could feature in the Bundesliga if the 36 clubs in the first and second league vote to lower the minium age at the next general meeting in March.

According to daily papers Bild and Welt, Dortmund back the proposal to lower the limit in the top two leagues.

They could benefit as teen prodigy Youssoufa Moukoko, who turns 16 in November, would be able to make his Bundesliga debut in 2020/21.

He scored a record 50 goals last season in the Under-17 league and made his debut for Germany Under-16 in September 2017, just before his 13th birthday, scoring three goals in four games.

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Dortmund's youth coordinator Lars Ricken, who made his league debut in 1994 before his 18th birthday, argues that the current minimum age puts the German league clubs at "a major disadvantage".

"There are concrete examples of players who decided against joining Bundesliga clubs because they are allowed to play in professional teams at a much younger age in other countries," he said.

However, Julian Nagelsmann, head coach of current Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig, is against the proposal.

"If I put players in even earlier, they will be put under pressure even earlier and will also be eyed more by the media," said Nagelsmann.

The 32-year-old became the youngest head coach in Bundesliga history when, aged 28, he took charge of Hoffenheim in 2015.

"I am not a scientist and have not looked into it deeply, but I can not imagine that it is great for development if you become a Bundesliga player aged 16," he added.


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