Assan Ouédraogo: Schalke’s Record-Breaking Teenage Talent

Club: FC Schalke 04
Nationality: Germany
Position(s): AM, CM, LM
Preferred Foot: Right
Height: 6’3”/191cm
Age: 17
Strengths: physicality, power, aerial threat, ball-carrying, dribbling
Areas for Development: defensive positioning & ability


It has been yet another dismal campaign for Schalke, who have it all to do as they look to avoid relegation to the third-tier. They sit 14th in the table, two points above the relegation playoff and three above the relegation zone, and yet, their academy production continues to thrive. Over the past decade, the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mesut Özil, İlkay Gündoğan, Leroy Sané, and Malick Thiaw have emerged from the youth ranks and made a name for themself in European football, and the latest Knappenschmiede graduate to make his mark for Schalke is Assan Ouédraogo.


Born in Mülheim, Germany to Burkinabé parents, Ouédraogo made the move to Schalke in 2014, spending a decade at the academy before being promoted to the first team ahead of the 2023/24 season. In their first match since suffering relegation from the Bundesliga, Ouédraogo was named as a surprise starter in their opening match of the 2. Bundesliga season, becoming their youngest-ever player at 17 years and 80 days old.



After Robert Glatzel put HSV in front in the 16th minute, Ouédraogo levelled the scoring immediately after, breaking Julian Draxler’s record as Schalke’s all-time youngest scorer, and adding an assist as well. Despite taking the lead on the cusp of halftime, Schalke would fall to a 5-3 defeat in Hamburg, but Ouédraogo nevertheless turned eyes with an astute performance. He was able to build on that platform, finding his way into the XI before succumbing to a hamstring injury in mid November.


He would have to wait until March 17 to make his return, coming off the bench in a 5-2 loss to Hertha Berlin, but after finally recovering his fitness, Schalke will be counting on him as they look to navigate their way out of a perilous relegation battle.  At 6ft 3, he’s a very commanding midfielder who boasts an imposing physique at 17 years of age, but don’t let his height fool you: Ouédraogo is a great ball carrier and has quick feet for someone standing at 191cm.

The German star is great with the ball in tight spaces. Ouédraogo is a similar profile to those of Khéphren Thuram, Ryan Gravenberch and Paul Pogba, all of whom are misprofiled as 6s due to their physical prowess and height but actually are best as advanced 8s. The combination of his physicality and his speed makes him a powerful runner who can drive through defences and central areas with ease and conviction. In addition, this height makes him a serious aerial threat on corners.

As a forward-thinking, progressive midfielder, Ouédraogo is comfortable receiving the ball on the half turn to then drive towards his opponent. This profile of midfielder can excel in all top leagues due to the amalgamation of physicality & technical ability. Defensively, he needs work. Due to his attacking nature, he can often be out of position and his defensive awareness needs work. But with his physicality and presence, he’s great in duels and with a good OOP coach, he could create a solid screen next to a DM.


How Schalke Went from Raul to Relegation

If Ouédraogo improves his defensive intelligence, he’ll be a well-rounded complete 8. He’s played as a Mezzala in a 4-3-3, an AM, CM or even a LM. Ouédraogo’s best role is as an attack minded 8 who’s given licence to drive with the ball up the pitch & box crash. The areas where he already excels are:


-height, physicality, aerial threat & ability to attack the back post

-powerful runner, upper body strength

-shoots from the edge of the box with either foot to good effect


The son of ex Burkina Faso international Alassane Ouédraogo, the 17-year-old midfielder is eligible to represent Les Étalons or Die Mannschaft, but as things stand, he looks headed for a promising career with the German national team. Ouédraogo represented Germany at the U-16 and U-17 level before starring in the 2023 U-17 Euros, scoring the winning spot-kick as Germany edged France 5-4 on penalties in the final. He would play in both of their first two matches in the U-17 World Cup against Mexico and New Zealand before suffering an syndesmotic ligament tear, but Germany would nevertheless proceed to beat France 4-3 on penalties in the final.


By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Sebastian El-Saqqa – firo sportphoto / Getty Images