Lukas Michelbrink wasn’t amused, to put it mildly. With two emojis – one with rolling eyes, the other with a raised eyebrow – he provided a report from the “Bild” newspaper on Twitter, according to which Noel Aseko, his previous teammate from Hertha BSC’s U 17, was moving to the youth academy of FC Bayern Munich changes.
Michelbrink later reported that Bayern were “simply annoying”, that they had already tried to poach him and “a few others from us” when they were under 13s.
Annoyed and disappointed. That also applies to many Hertha fans. Because Noel Aseko, 16 years old and German U-17 national player, is likely to be the next top talent that the Berlin Bundesliga team will lose.
For the time being, Hertha still denies that the change has already been made. But the first rumors about this transfer started weeks ago and it is now an open secret in the industry that Aseko will join Bayern. The only question is how high the financial compensation will be that Hertha BSC can collect for the transfer.
At the beginning of May, in the second leg of the semi-finals for the German championship, Aseko last played for the Berliners: because there was a shortage of man, he had to play in central defence. Aseko was injured early on, Hertha lost 2-1 against VfB Stuttgart, missed out on reaching the final – and Aseko was unable to take part in the U-17 European Championships, which began a few days later, because of the injury.
When he’s not helping out as a central defender, Aseko plays as a six in front of defence. In terms of type, he resembles the Frenchman Ngolo Kanté: Like Kanté, Aseko is also someone who rules the room.
This is mainly due to his ability to anticipate, which is rated as outstanding. In addition, there are outstanding footballing skills, good ball control, an excellent passing game and a determined tackle. All of this makes Aseko one of the most conspicuous players of his year (2005) – and of course also interesting for other clubs.
It has long been known in his hometown that Aseko, who used to play for Hertha 03, has extraordinary skills. The native of Berlin was already considered an outstanding talent in the U14s. “I don’t want to say that he is our most important player, but he is definitely a very important one,” said Oliver Reiß, Hertha’s previous U-17 coach.
Reiß would also train Aseko in the new season because he is also moving from the U17s to the U19s and will succeed Michael Hartmann there. Hartmann left Hertha this spring. He will work in the future: at Bayern.
Almost exactly five years ago, the Munich team moved into their 70 million euro youth academy, the FC Bayern Campus. “The campus is an opportunity for us to generate a lot of success,” said Uli Hoeneß, who was still president of the association at the time, when it opened. “The training should become the hallmark of our club.”
Critics now accuse the record champions of being very aggressive when it comes to recruiting young players. Cynics even claim that the Bavarians somehow have to fill their youth boarding school with a total of 35 apartments for the young players.
The club is also well positioned in Berlin, including a full-time scout for youngsters. In addition, Jochen Sauer, the head of the campus, has a Hertha past. He was the right hand of the former managing director Dieter Hoeneß. Michael Hartmann, the future Bayern U-17 coach, knows Sauer from the time when Hartmann played at Hertha as a left-back in the Bundesliga.
In the summer in which the Bavarians inaugurated their campus, they already served in Berlin. In 2017 they signed three players from Hertha’s offspring: Torben Rhein, then 14 years old, and the brothers Nemanja and Nikola Motika, 14 and 13. It is said that they paid 200,000 euros.
The Motikas have since moved on to Red Star Belgrade. Rhein has just extended his contract with Bayern until 2025 – and was immediately loaned to the Austrian first division promoted Austria Lustenau.
Rhein was hyped early on as one of the greatest talents of his year, as the next Toni Kroos, for example. Like Florian Wirtz, he was born in 2003. Wirtz also changed clubs when he was young, went from 1. FC Köln to Bayer Leverkusen. There he made it into the Bundesliga, became a national team player and played the games at the highest level, which Rhein lacks. At the age of 19, Torben Rhein has just made 18 appearances for Munich – for the U23s in the Bavarian regional league.
“The children are just blinded,” wrote Lukas Michelbrink, who is also only 17, on Twitter in the course of the forthcoming Aseko move to Munich. You couldn’t even estimate how bad your chances are of becoming a professional with Bayern. But Bayern take advantage of that. “One in 50 becomes a star, the rest kick regional leagues.”