Dan-Axel Zagadou: From PSG's B team to Borussia Dortmund starlet eyeing Bundesliga glory

The 19-year-old defender has been one of the German side’s brightest stars in a campaign that has taken many by surprise. 

Dortmund lead the way at the top of the table and look set to end the six-year dominance of their great Der Klassiker rivals Bayern Munich. 

But, more astonishingly, they are doing it with a host of youngsters like Zagadou and England international Jadon Sancho. 

The Frenchman has come a long way in the past two years, from not even being in contention for a senior place to becoming a part of BVB’s 3-2 win over Bayern in November – with a squad filled with nine players under the age of 24. 

Before this season got underway, it was predicted that the Westfalenstadion outfit would go through a transitional campaign, blooding their young talent and giving them the experience needed. 

The departure of solid centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos has helped to give Zagadou his chance at the heart of defence, but no one could have predicted his and Dortmund’s sudden rise. 

The back four is one of the most youthful in Europe, with the Frenchman joined by 22-year-old fellow countryman Abdou Diallo and Real Madrid loanee Achraf Hakimi, 20.

They are now pushing to claim the club’s first Bundesliga title since 2012 – but it has been some journey for Zagadou to reach this point. 

He moved to Germany just two days after his 18th birthday, having seen opportunities extremely limited in Paris. 

Despite his talent and promise, he was not going to climb above the likes of Marquinhos, Thiago Silva or Presnel Kimpembe in the pecking order. 

The 6ft 5in central defender’s first season at Westfalenstadion was very much a settling-in period, playing just nine times in the Bundesliga – no surprise considering his previous senior football experience was in France’s fourth tier, now known as Championnat National 2. 

In the current campaign, Zagadou started by playing for Dortmund’s second string in the Regionalliga, Germany's own fourth division, before becoming a staple in the first team. 

The tall defender is almost a guarantee for winning balls in the air with his enormous height, often able to climb head and shoulders above the opposition attackers, while his defensive awareness has cut out many opponents in their tracks. 

Yet, his mobility and pace mean he can not only make up for lost ground, but is comfortable weaving his way out from the back. 

And then there is his passing ability. Zagadou would not look out of place further forward with his vision and technique similar to that of David Luiz, with the Chelsea star known for spraying balls up field and starting his team’s offence. 

He has yet to show his talent on the senior international scene with almost an endless stream of talented French defenders vying for the few spots. 

But should Zagadou continue to impress and claim the Bundesliga title with Dortmund this season, Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps will have a selection dilemma – all the while alerting himself to every top club in Europe. 

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