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4 unheralded stars setting the Bundesliga alight

Saturday 3rd March 2018

When the Bundesliga is mentioned, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund's superstars immediately spring to mind. RB Leipzig's maiden foray somewhat altered that script last term, but there's been an even stranger tweak this term. Several young players from lesser-known sides are making significant headway.

Here are four who particularly stand out. 

Philipp Max / Augsburg

Last season, Max Philipp flirted more with Augsburg's youth side than the seniors. On those rare occasions he made the matchday squad, he could count himself quite fortunate. His story has changed markedly in 2017/18.

Not only is the 24-year-old starting Bundesliga matches, he's been the Fuggerstatders' most outstanding player. With 10 assists after 25 matches, Max is the Bundesliga assist king. Did I mention he's a defender? 

Max's unusual appetite for goal isn't entirely surprising. His dad Martin was twice the league's top scorer during his time at 1860 Munich from 1999-2003. 

Nils Peterson / Freiburg

Take away Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Nils Peterson's 12 goals would top the Bundesliga goal column. He will share the pitch with Lewy tomorrow. 

Unlike Max, there's nothing too surprising about Peterson's superb form. A proven goal poacher everywhere he has played, the 29-year-old was already famous in the lower ranks.

The shocker is Peterson stuttered in the season's opening stages. He didn't start any of Freiburg’s first 10 games, coming on as a substitute on eight occasions and missing the other two with a muscle strain.

A serious knee injury to Florian Niederlechner in early November handed the German the opportunity for which he had always longed. He scored the opener in a 2-1 win over Mainz on Matchday 12 before netting only his second top-flight hat-trick in the remarkable 4-3 victory at Cologne two weeks later.

Leon Bailey / Bayer Leverkusen

If you haven't heard of Leon Bailey yet, you soon will. He is unarguably the most exciting winger who doesn't play for Bayern or BVB. With pace to burn and an incredible skill set, he often leaves defenders on their backsides. He's got end product, too, with 11 goals and five assists to date.

In the winter of 2017, Belgian side Genk lost two of it's most promising stars: Wilfred Ndidi and Bailey. While Ndidi headed to Leicester City, his Jamaican-born teammate chose Leverkusen. Unlike the Nigerian, his impact wasn't immediate. He started just eight league games without any meaningful contribution towards goal. He is now benefitting from extra time with the team in pre-season.  

Dayot Upamecano / RB Leipzig

Up and coming Upamecano. It just rolls off the tongue. Leipzig's second year with the elites isn't going quite as intended. After 25 games, die Bullen are sixth on 39 points. That isn't horrible, but this time last season, they were mounting a frightful assault on the title.

It hasn't been all doom and gloom for the Saxony club. Individual performances from players such as Upamecano has provided respite. By a distance, he's been the league's best young defender. Just 19, Dayot is now a mainstay in Leipzig's rearguard. Boasting astonishing skill and touch, the rangy centre-back possesses a far older player's composure and the power of a pick-up truck. Try to outwit or outrun him at your peril. He's played 29 times in all competitions. 

Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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