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Moukoko to integrate with Dortmund squad 'immediately' to facilitate debut at 16

3 months ago
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Borussia Dortmund's sporting director says the plan is to have Youssoufa Moukoko ready for first-team football when he turns 16 in November.

Youssoufa Moukoko will be integrated into the Borussia Dortmund senior squad "immediately" to ensure he is used to playing against adults by the time he turns 16, sporting director Michael Zorc confirmed.

Despite being just 15, Moukoko has already caused significant excitement about his potential, having accomplished several impressive feats in youth football.

As a 14-year-old last October, he became the youngest scorer in the UEFA Youth League, smashing the previous record by more than 12 months.

He then set another record in the Under-19 Bundesliga in March prior to coronavirus disrupting football of all levels, as the teenager took his tally for the season to 34 goals in 20 matches with a brace in a 3-0 win over Rot-Weiss Oberhausen.

Until regulations were altered this year, Moukoko would have likely had to wait until turning 17 before being eligible for the senior side, however the German Football League (DFL) changed the statutes to allow players to acquire a "gaming license" at 16.

Moukoko appears destined to be an early beneficiary of that alteration, and Zorc suggested he will be integrated into the senior squad soon to make sure he is used to men's football when he turns 16 in November.

"We are very interested in involving the boys from our own youth teams with us upstairs [in the senior squad]," Zorc told reporters on Thursday.

"We want to play at the top in the Bundesliga and also in the Champions League. That means it's a big leap from the Under-19s to the Bundesliga, but that will always remain our focus, that's what Borussia Dortmund stands for.

"But that doesn't exclude us from getting young players from around the world. I would even prefer it that these players start out in our youth system because that strengthens the identity with the club.

"The coach [Lucien Favre] and I, we talked about Moukoko this week and decided that we want him to join the squad immediately so he learns how to play and train against grown-ups and professionals.

"With the rule change, we can use him in the Bundesliga when he turns 16."

Presuming Moukoko makes his first-team debut soon after becoming eligible, he will obliterate Nuri Sahin's record as the youngest player to feature in the Bundesliga.

The Turkey international, who now plays for Werder Bremen, was 16 years, 11 months and one day old when he first played for Dortmund in 2005. He was given special dispensation to be introduced earlier than the statutes permitted.

Another young player thriving at Dortmund is Erling Haaland, who after a sensational first half of the season with Salzburg has continued to astonish, taking the Bundesliga by storm.

Zorc still sees plenty of room for growth for the 19-year-old Norway international, however.

"The goal yield [16 in 17 games in all competitions] could not be expected," he added. "It is already a step up to move out of the Austrian Bundesliga to the German Bundesliga. He is still very young.

"Everything that you've seen has not been so sustainable, even if he has already scored in the Champions League. He still has to get used to matches every Wednesday and Saturday."

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