Opinion

Leon Bailey

Bayer Leverkusen will be delighted to have their flying winger sewn to a five-year contract yesterday. Such news is a major boost for Heiko Herrlich’s side ahead of the new season.

Indeed, Bailey scored 12 goals in 34 appearances in his first full season at the club, having arrived from Genk in January 2017. At 21 years-old, the Jamaican winger has a bright future and was reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal before he committed his future to the German side.

The number nine loves a stepover and is direct, quick and tricky. With him in the side, Leverkusen have an attacking outlet who can really take the game to opposing defences and is a terrific out-ball for those in deeper roles. They, like the fans, know Bailey can be turned to for inspiration.

Achraf Hakimi

Trying to oust the likes of Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos is a tall ask for Hakimi this season, so a move to Dortmund on a two-year loan deal should be great business for both parties.

The 19-year-old is predominantly a right-back with composure and flair on the ball, but he is versatile enough to fill in at centre-back if needs be. The Moroccan, who started all three of his nation’s matches at the 2018 World Cup, played nine La Liga games for Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid last season.

Having graduated from the famous Spanish club’s academy, the young defender should have already absorbed plenty of knowledge as he seeks to develop his game in Germany.

Denis Zakaria

The robust and resilient Swiss midfielder may look a giant at 6ft 2inch, yet in terms of age, he is still an infant in the league at just 21 years. As well as being dependable in the tackle, Zakaria is savvy with the ball, achieving a 100 per cent completion rate for passes during his first four Bundesliga matches at Borussia Monchengladbach.

On the back of a terrific breakthrough season in Germany-in which he racked up a 91 per cent success rate for passing throughout the whole season-Zakaria made two appearances off the bench for his country at the World Cup.

Signed from BSC Young Boys in July 2017, Zakaria is a vital cog in Monchengladbach’s line-up and will be hoping to improve further on his impressive first campaign with the club.

Pablo Maffeo

There can be no higher gauge of a player’s ability than being signed on the recommendation of Pep Guardiola. Big things are expected of Pablo Maffeo at Stuttgart this season after playing regularly for Manchester City’s under-23 side, as well as the Spanish under-21s.

Only 21 years old, Maffeo was looking for regular first-team football at senior level. Tayfun Korkut and Stuttgart were only too happy to oblige, signing Maffeo on a five-year deal. A potential buy-back clause illustrates Pep is aware of the young defender’s ability.

Two successful loan spells in La Liga with Girona showcased Maffeo’s skills, in particular, his fine performance against a certain Lionel Messi. 33 games in Spain should mean Maffeo will be more than prepared to battle against attacking opponents in Germany.

Jadon Sancho

It’s an obvious one to finish, but if Mr Sancho was to be missed off this list, it would be a glaring omission-nearly as conspicuous as the lack of Leroy Sane from Germany’s World Cup squad.

Despite being just 18 years old, Sancho is one of the headline names in the entire league, after arriving from Manchester City. The tremendously talented winger gave the world a glimpse of his monumental ability during the under-17 World Cup, where he caused opposition defenders to have many a headache with his turn of pace, crossing and sharp finishing.

Dortmund’s infant prodigy has already proven he can perform in the Bundesliga, assisting four and scoring one in 12 games last season. Now is the chance for Sancho to kick on and turn his huge potential into regular, consistent performances.