KEY POINTS

  • Borussia Dortmund U19 striker Youssoufa Moukoko could make his first-team debut after he turns 16 in November
  • A rule change made by DFL reduced age restrictions to make a senior debut from 17 to 16
  • Moukoko started training with the first team in August and was given the no. 18 shirt by coach Lucien Favre

After showing consistently impressive performances at Borussia Dortmund’s U17s and U19s, Youssoufa Moukoko may soon make his first-team debut.

Dortmund’s first team already houses an array of promising youngsters such as Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho. But with the team keen on adding more prolific goal scorers, U17 striker Moukoko, who has earned comparisons to Lionel Messi, may soon join the squad as he will be eligible to represent Dortmund’s first team when he turns 16 on Nov. 20.

The DFL (Deutsche Fußball Liga) amended the Licensing Regulations for Players (LOS) in April, reducing age restrictions to make a senior debut from 17 to 16.

The 15-year-old is being honed by the Bundesliga side and started training with the seniors in August, according to Bundesliga’s official website. Before the 2020-21 campaign kicked off on Sept. 18, Moukoko was also given the no. 18 shirt by Dortmund coach Lucien Favre.

"Lukasz Piszczek helped me a lot, but Emre Can and Julian Brandt also support me," Moukoko said of his integration into the first team, Goal reported. "Piszczek pulled me straight to the side and said: 'Just have fun, be yourself. And don't be afraid of us professionals.'"

Dortmund is already looking forward to Moukoko’s first-team bow. 

"Youssoufa is one of us, he belongs in the squad and should be introduced to professional football," Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc told Ruhr Nachrichten.

"He's an outstanding talent, but still very young," he continued. "He should stay with us, but the plan is he plays in the U19s. It's important that he continues to get match practice."

Youssoufa Moukoko of Borussia Dortmund Youssoufa Moukoko of Borussia Dortmund Photo: Getty Images | Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images

After establishing himself as a lethal goal scorer, Moukoko has received compliments from the Dortmund senior squad. Haaland, one of Dortmund’s current stars, recently revealed that he has never seen a player like Moukoko, whom he said is better than him at the same age.

"Moukoko is much better than I was at his age," Haaland told reporters at Dortmund's Bad Ragaz training camp via AS. "I have never seen such a good 15-year-old in my life."

Should everything go smoothly for Moukoko, he could soon join U19 colleague Giovanni Reyna, who made his debut in January, just two months after his 17th birthday.

Moukoko’s first-team debut could be another special birthday present as well. Last year, his idol, Messi, made his day unforgettable by sending him a personalized token – a photo collage of the Barcelona superstar.

"Oh my god! Got this as a gift from my idol. Many thanks, Leo Messi. Thanks for all your birthday wishes," the teenage prodigy said in his post on Instagram.

Born in Cameroon, Moukoko was given the moniker “African Messi” because of his incredible goal scoring ability that resembles that of a young “Leo.” The wonderkid has been tearing up goal scoring records across every youth category, tallying a whopping 128 goals in total in 86 combined outings for the Dortmund’s U17s and U19s.

Lionel Messi almost scored a breathtaking goal but Barcelona were held to a frustrating draw by Slavia Prague Lionel Messi Photo: AFP / LLUIS GENE