The striker has etched his name into the record books this season but his team-mate says he must have the space to truly flourish in the years ahead
Youssoufa Moukoko has “enormous quality”, according to Borussia Dortmund team-mate Raphael Guerreiro, but the defender has urged both his admirers and critics to afford him the time to fully develop.
The Cameroon-born striker has etched his name into the record books this season as the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever player at just 16, and has set pulses racing with a string of eye-catching performances under Edin Terzic.
Yet while his senior clubmate has predicted that a bright future lies ahead for the teenager, he has insisted that expectations he will be an overnight success will be unfounded, instead stating that the attacker must be given the space to flourish.
What has Guerreiro said?
“He has enormous quality,” the Portugal international told the Bundesliga’s official website. “He’s a very good finisher in front of goal. He’s very fast as well. He’s young so he needs time to adapt to the Bundesliga.
“He has already scored two goals, which is amazing for a 16-year-old. But I think he needs time to adapt to our game and our football. He’s been training with us almost since the beginning of the season, he’s getting to know his team-mates.
“It’s all new for him – the opponents are different. They’re not 19 or 20-year-olds anymore. It’s challenging for him. But he’s a very good player and I’m certain that he’ll show that in the coming years.
“He needs to be given time, he cannot be judged on his first matches. He needs time to work on himself, and in the coming years he’ll show his full talent.”
What has been Moukoko’s rise?
The teenager already looked on track to be a record breaker during his days in the Dortmund youth team, having made his UEFA Youth League debut as part of their Under-19 team against Barcelona at just 14.
His goal a month later against Inter – just under a month shy of his 15th birthday – only further underlined his prodigious talent, earning him further acclaim as one of the game’s most promising young players.
But the records he has notched up since his senior debut last November – the youngest player and goalscorer in Bundesliga history and the youngest player in Champions League history – have only intensified the pressure on the starlet to perform.
The bigger picture
Guerreiro’s insistence to ease off on expectations for Moukoko may need to be well-heeded, particularly as Dortmund face a genuine struggle to secure Champions League football next term.
The club currently lie below the qualification spots, six points behind fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt, and could find themselves instead in the Europa League or newly-formed Conference League – or even out of Europe entirely.
However, they will take heart from their midweek victory over Sevilla to put one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals, and will hope to carry over the same form against Schalke this weekend.
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