5 Players to Break Out in the Bundesliga Next Season
A few months don't even go by in Germany without another talented young player emerging and making a name for himself.
This season was no different with the likes of Emre Can, Erik Durm, Max Meyer and Timo Werner all emerging as some of the Bundesliga's best prospects.
Each of these players played a crucial part in his team's season in one way or another, and each will be an even more significant part next season.
Then there are those who either appeared briefly for the first team or are on the cusp of breaking through and making an impact.
Let's take a look at five of these players—names that may yet be unfamiliar to the global football audience, but who can make a household name for themselves next season.
Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04)
Goretzka came to Schalke with an impressive reputation. He established himself in Bochum's first team at the age of 17 and quickly moved through Germany's youth teams, captaining them and winning the prestigious Fritz Walter medal two years ago.
The move to the top flight was a challenge initially. Goretzka faced a physically stronger and faster league and plenty of competition in his position. Schalke coach Jens Keller used him in a wide attacking role to get him experience, and slowly but surely Goretzka came into his own.
The 19-year-old featured prominently in Schalke's historic second-half season and was surprisingly called up to Joachim Low's provisional World Cup roster. The move was a reward for his quick development and a hint that he has a big future ahead of him.
With Jermaine Jones gone and Kevin-Prince Boateng's injury concerns, the stage is set for Goretzka to assume his natural central midfield role next season. Compared to Michael Ballack in the past, Goretzka is a technically gifted box-to-box midfielder who can create and score.
There is no question that we will see more of Goretzka next season, and with the way he finished the 2013-14 season, look for him to become a significant part of Schalke's campaign.
Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)
Brandt has been one of German football's brightest prospects for years now, which made Wolfsburg's decision to sell him to Bayer Leverkusen last year all that more surprising.
Nevertheless, Brandt was making great progress with the youth teams and was ready for senior football. Leverkusen's youth culture and team were the ideal fit for him.
In April, Brandt became Leverkusen's youngest-ever goalscorer in the Bundesliga and featured 14 times for the team in the second half of the season—he even got minutes in the Champions League.
Brandt's incredible pace, willingness to take players on and overall great attacking instincts allowed him to integrate seamlessly, and with the incoming attacking-oriented coach Roger Schmidt, Brandt is going to play an even bigger role in the coming years.
With one of the most talented rosters of young players, Leverkusen will be one of the most interesting teams to watch next season, and Brandt is going to be at the heart of it all.
Carlos Gruezo (VfB Stuttgart)
Carlos Gruezo is only the second Ecuadorian to play in the Bundesliga. Making the transition to Europe at 18 was no easy feat, and how quickly he adapted in his first season speaks volumes about his quality.
The young Ecuadorian midfielder just turned 19 this past April, but has already made quite a noticeable impact after his move to Stuttgart in January.
After an initial settling-in period, Gruezo became a regular in Stuttgart's lineup and finished the season as the preferred central midfielder alongside captain Christian Gentner. Earlier this month he was called into Ecuador's World Cup roster.
Gruezo is dynamic, good on both sides of the ball and has a powerful shot. If he continues to develop at this rate, he will be first choice for Stuttgart next season and could be a key piece in new coach Armin Veh's campaign to get the team back on track.
Jonathan Tah (Hamburger SV)
Most 18-year-olds who play at the senior level are usually attackers, players who will have less responsibility and smaller margins of error in the way they affect the game.
So the fact that Jonathan Tah was trusted by Hamburg to play, and start, in several games this season speaks volumes about his quality and his ceiling as a player.
The German U-17 captain did have moments where he showed his age, but he was also surprisingly calm during an extremely difficult season for the club. He is composed on the ball, good in the air and is very vocal on the field.
With the inconsistent form of the team's other center-backs, there is every chance Tah will appear more frequently next season and potentially even start.
More than anything, Hamburg will have to improve defensively, and Tah's maturity and overall skill set could be a key to finding some stability.
Julian Green (Bayern Munich)
Green has been making waves with his recent inclusion in Jurgen Klinsmann's World Cup roster for the United States. And with good reason.
Despite the lack of first-team experience with Bayern, Green's talents and abilities have been highly touted by all his coaches. Pep Guardiola included him in Bayern's pre-season training and on the squad competing at the World Club Cup this past winter.
Green's experience in Brazil could be transformative and do enough to convince Guardiola to bring him into the first team next season. With an aging Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, there will be room for Green to get minutes, too.
If anything, Green could get sent out on loan at another Bundesliga club similar to David Alaba, Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm earlier in their careers where they really established themselves.
Either way, look for Julian Green's name to appear more frequently next season.