There was a time when show business produced situations of collective neurosis. In the digital age, you don’t have to waste so much energy to increase your billing. It is enough to anticipate the fever before it occurs, releasing a ton of data through electromagnetic waves, so that the mere expectation becomes the object of traffic. This has happened in German football, where the saddest year in the Bundesliga coincides with two contradictory events. The deepest drought of indigenous talent in memory, and the emergence of Yossoufa Moukoko, the most sponsored youth in German history.
His birth was registered in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in 2004, although the timeliness of the process has been the subject of controversy. If he was really ten when he settled in Hamburg, to the boys who started playing with him at the St. Pauli, he must have looked as old as a cyclone.
He was credited for 11 years when Borussia Dortmund signed him for their quarry. At 12 he made his debut in the U-17 Bundesliga. In the 2018-19 season he scored 50 goals in 28 games. In the 2019-20 season he was promoted to the U19s and scored 38 goals in 28 games. This course accumulated 13 goals in four games when the tide of excitement reached the coast of the senior team. Since the boy has been nationalized, the Bundesliga was quick to promote him by inquiring from Joachim Löw himself.
“I got in touch with their coaches,” the German coach acknowledged in October; “And I also saw some videos. It’s hard to believe that someone this age can score so many goals in a U19 league against players two or three years older than him.
Germany is a conservative country. To avoid child exploitation, until this summer the federation prohibited the debut of those under 17 in the highest category. The rule was revised at the behest of Dortmund to promote the career of its pearl. The teenager turned 16 years old last Friday and that day, with the new accredited minimum age, he was able to enter the first list of summoned. When Lucien Favre, the Dortmund coach, pointed him out on the expedition to face Hertha at the Olympic Stadium, the news went through the networks: “Moukoko travels to Berlin.”
Dortmund has made the sale of players its main source of financing. In the last decade the club has traded footballers like Pulisic, Dembelé, Aubameyang, Mkhitrayan or Götze for more than 600 million euros, and now the pandemic forces it to overexploit the well. They say in Dortmund that Favre acted under pressure. Eager to put the boy on display, President Hans-Joachim Watzke has poorly concealed his interest. The illusion precedes the reality of a player whose degree of understanding of top-level football is unknown, even though YouTube portrays him moving the wild ball through quarry fields, finishing at his discretion – preferably with his left foot – against boys who do not They come out of their perplexity, almost always after dribbling and cutting in inexhaustible displays of power. Physically, there is no doubt, he is superior to the Under-19s.
“Youssufa was already being talked about as a phenomenon when he was 10 years old,” observes Lars Ricken, who was also a German soccer prodigy and currently runs the Dortmund youth academy. “There is no need to be afraid of 15-year-old talents in the Bundesliga. He is too good for juniors: you have to give him the opportunity to evolve ”.
The Dortmund game in Berlin turned thanks to a man. At half-time Hertha won (1-0). In the 80th minute Dortmund swept (1-5) with four goals from Erling Haaland. In 85 Favre called Haaland and replaced him with Moukoko. As he left the field, Favre asked the Norwegian to congratulate him: “How many goals have you scored?” “I have only got four because he has not let me continue,” replied the giant. “I’m pissed off at you!”
Haaland laughs: “The world’s greatest talent now is Moukoko”
At almost two meters tall and 90 kilos in weight, no footballer has armor more prepared than Haaland’s for hand-to-hand combat. However, the Norwegian made a difference by mocking contact with rivals. His unchecking and his dance steps to elude the centrals allowed him to define his first goals with one touch. His wonderful repertoire contrasted with that of the debutant. Accustomed in the lower categories to impose himself thanks to his physical power, the first thing Moukoko did was ask for the ball at the foot. His teammates gave it to him three times: the first, he gave it to a rival; the second he played in midfield after entertaining himself while driving; and the third one faced the central Hertha before the Paraguayan Omar Alderete stole it like someone frightening a gadfly.
When the game ended, the cameras chased Haaland to ask about Moukoko. “The greatest talent in world football right now is Moukoko,” he replied, smiling like a gambler. “I am already 20 years old and I am getting older.”