The 2. Bundesliga may be renowned for its high tempo, goalscoring football, but it is also a phenomenal breeding ground for future stars. With the new season underway, who are five under-21 players to look out for during the 2023/24 campaign?
Bright Arrey-Mbi (20) – Hannover 96
After impressing while on loan at Hannover last season, Bright Arrey-Mbi has permanently signed with Die Roten on a free transfer from Bayern Munich. The 20-year-old centre-half featured sparingly throughout what was a turbulent campaign for Stefan Leitl’s side. However, despite only featuring just 15 times in the 2. Bundesliga last term, Arrey-Mbi proved why he is so thought after. Completing just under 2 tackles a game, no other Hannover defender was as successful when having to make a challenge as the youngster. Going into the new season, Hannover are expected to kick on from their disappointing Rückrunde return, where they would even flirt with a potential relegation battle. Further experience in a Hannover side that are more understating of their identity next season will benefit the former Bayern Munich and Chelsea youth player, as he will look to establish himself as one of Germany’s best young centre-backs.
Wahid Faghir (19) – Elversberg
While newly-promoted Elversberg are not expected to blow the 2. Bundesliga away as they enter their first season in Germany’s second tier, Wahid Faghir certainly is someone to look out for. The Danish striker is currently on loan from Bundesliga side Stuttgart, where he has been unable to break into the first team despite registering his first goal for the club almost two years ago against Union Berlin. After spending last year on loan at FC Nordsjælland – where the 19-year-old contributed a goal every 91 minutes – Faghir is ready to return back to Germany. A loan in Germany’s second tier could be the ideal next step as he looks to prove why he is regarded as Denmark’s future number nine. Considered an old-fashioned striker, Faghir also has the technical ability to stand out from the crowd. Combining this with his incredible intelligence in and around the box, Elversberg could have found the perfect answer to their relegation fears.
Paul Nebel (20) – Karlsruher SC
Going into the second year of Paul Nebel’s two-year loan at Karlsruher from Mainz, the 20-year-old has already shown glimpses of what he can provide KSC for the upcoming campaign. Four league goals last term is nothing to write home about – albeit a decent return for such a young midfielder – however, it is Nebel’s creation that is so important to Christian Eichner’s side. Six league assists was only topped by Marvin Wanitzek in the Karlsruher side last campaign, as Nebel began to find his feet in Germany’s second tier. Nebel will be looking to improve on his average of 1 key pass per game, but 0.7 dibbles per 90 also represents the best return in the Karlsruher squad. The tricky and agile youngster should be a bright spark in KSC’s season and with the departure of Mikkel Kaufmann to Union Berlin, Nebel will certainly be the player called upon by Christian Eichner.
András Németh (20) – Hamburger SV
After signing for Hamburg during the January transfer window, András Németh had begun to impress throughout his often fleeting appearances from the bench. Two goals in his opening three games for Der Dino caught the eyes of those watching the young Hungarian striker – a feet even more impressive as the strikes came from a total of just 29 in-game minutes. However, Németh sustained a fractured ankle towards the end of the season meaning that he would miss the final six games of Hamburg’s campaign. More unfortunately for HSV is that Németh will also miss the opening few fixtures of the new campaign. Nevertheless, the 20-year-old will soon return, and he could be a devastating addition to the Hamburg frontline. A similar build to Wahid Faghir, Németh is a traditional number nine, whose technical attributes allow him to shine out wide as well. In a season where the competition has increased for HSV, they will have to perform week in and week out. This means that it could be a breakthrough campaign for Németh.
Jonas Urbig (19) – Greuther Fürth
Jonas Urbig has had a rough start to life in professional football. After being sent out on loan to Jahn Regensburg for the second half of last season, Urbig played every minute that was available to him. However, he could not prevent Die Rothosen from relegation to Germany’s third tier. A collection of two clean sheets in 17 appearances for Jahn, while it doesn’t sound spectacular, is a testament to his ability. Only four sides conceded fewer goals than the relegated side and if it was not for the 19-year-old, they could have easily been in pole position. A great shot-stopper, but with still plenty to learn, Greuther Fürth could be the perfect side for Urbig to develop his game. A club that is recent years that has helped nurture talented young players such as David Raum and Jessic Ngankam, Urbig certainly could be the next player to have improved during his time with the Kleeblätter.
GGFN | Will Shopland