Frauen-Bundesliga: Five standout talents from the 2023/24 season

A TV camera man films the Matchball prior to the FLYERALARM Frauen-Bundesliga match between Eintracht Frankfurt and VfL Wolfsburg at Deutsche Bank Park
A TV camera man films the Matchball prior to the FLYERALARM Frauen-Bundesliga match between Eintracht Frankfurt and VfL Wolfsburg at Deutsche Bank Park. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

Every year, the Frauen-Bundesliga produces great talents, this year is no different. Whether in Munich or Duisburg, a number of young players have made an impression in the first half of the season.

Mara Alber (Hoffenheim), Ena Mahmutovic (Duisburg), Alara Sehitler (Bayern), Cora Zicai (Freiburg) and Natasha Kowalski (Essen) are all under twenty years old but have already proven their talent at the highest level in Germany.

Mara Alber (TSG Hoffenheim)

Mara Alber is a name that should be familiar to fans of the women’s Bundesliga after the first couple of matchdays of this season at the latest. Alber has made a fantastic start to the season. She scored her first Bundesliga goal against Duisburg and has since added three more goals and two assists. Whether against Bremen, Leverkusen or Wolfsburg, Alber scores and scores.

Her development may come as a surprise at first glance, as she only made a few brief appearances last season and otherwise played in the 2. Frauen-Bundesliga. Now she has become a regular in one fell swoop. But the 18-year-old has already proven her potential before and was the outstanding player in the DFB selection at many junior tournaments. For example, she won the title with Germany at the U17 European Championships in spring 2021.

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Alber made her debut in the Frauen-Bundesliga at the age of 16 and promptly scored a penalty in her first match. The winger is extremely difficult to stop with her powerful dribbling, and many of Hoffenheim’s attacks run through her. Goal threat, technique, dynamism – Alber has many qualities. Following in the footsteps of Tabea Sellner, Lena Lattwein and Jule Brand, there is no doubt that the Hoffenheim academy has produced yet another of their promising Frauen-Bundesliga talents.

Ena Mahmutovic (MSV Duisburg)

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Germany has no shortage of outstanding goalkeepers. Merle Frohms fishes unstoppable balls out of the corner, Ann-Katrin Berger is a real penalty-killer, Stina Johannes is putting in increasingly commanding performances at Frankfurt, Mala Grohs has established herself as Bavaria’s number one and Janina Leitzig has quickly become a fan favourite in England with Leicester.

Nevertheless, Germany’s manager Horst Hrubesch has named the teenager in his squad this autumn. Ena Mahmutovic has already tasted the national team under Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, but she is still waiting for her debut.

Unlike in the Bundesliga: at 19, Mahmutovic is already in her second season as a regular goalkeeper at MSV Duisburg. She has already made many sensational saves for the “Zebras” and has driven even the top strikers in the Frauen Bundesliga to despair.

Mahmutovic has exceptional reflexes. But she is also a modern goalkeeper, and her two-footedness is her greatest strength. She certainly has her hands and feet full at Duisburg, who are battling relegation this season. Mahmutovic has had to save the second most shots on goal so far.

That gives her plenty of opportunities to practise – because despite all the praise, the 19-year-old is sometimes still too unsure when it comes to high crosses or lets some simple balls slip through. However, if she continues to develop at this rate, Germany will have no problem in the goalkeeping position in the future.

Alara Şehitler (Bayern Munich)

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At just 17, Alara Şehitler is the youngest player on this list. That’s why it’s probably hardest to predict where her career will take her. But Şehitler is already very advanced for her age, and she is often the youngest in the junior national teams too.

Thanks to her quick decision-making and shooting technique, Şehitler has nevertheless been able to assert herself. She played for her youth club FV Ravensbrück until the summer, before moving to Bayern Munich.

“She has everything it takes to become a great player. We were very impressed by the way she trains and plays,” said Alexander Straus after her transfer. The midfielder got her first Bundesliga minutes against Leipzig – and it certainly won’t be her last this season.

Cora Zicai (SC Freiburg)

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The next talent from the Black Forest: Cora Zicai has been playing with the Freiburg griffin on her chest for six years now. At the age of 19, she is already starting her third season in the SC Bundesliga squad, and her third could be her breakthrough season. Having previously played mainly as a substitute, Zicai has now played her way into the first eleven.

In doing so, she is raising hopes of following in the footsteps of Klara Bühl, Giulia Gwinn and co. whose careers started in Freiburg. Zicai is an intuitive dribbler who takes a lot of free kicks and corners and is also a goal threat. Her speed is another major asset – Zicai comes from a family of track and field athletes.

Her style of play is a little reminiscent of Klara Bühl in her Freiburg days – similar to Bühl, her decision-making is still a work in progress, but if she continues to get her 90 minutes regularly, that should improve quickly.

Natasha Kowalski (SGS Essen)

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SGS Essen are one of the surprise teams of the season, having beaten both Frankfurt and Hoffenheim. But is it even a surprise if they can repeat their success year for year? Essen, the only women-only club in the Frauen-Bundesliga, make the most of their resources every season. Their academy is the pillar of Essen’s success, with great Frauen-Bundesliga talents coming through the ranks regularly.

The likes of Lena Oberdorf, Linda Dallmann, Nicole Anyomi or Lea Schüller have taken important steps of their careers in Essen. This season, the new kids on the block in Essen are called Natasha Kowalski, Lilli Purtscheller, Beke Sterner, Laureta Elmazi and Katharina Piljic. All of them are 20 years young and, enjoying the trust of Essen coach Markus Högner, have already showcased their talent multiple times.

Kowalski is the main standout player in attack. An intelligent playmaker with excellent technique and dangerous free-kick deliveries, she has scored three goals this season and assisted three. Kowalski is instrumental in Essen’s attack and definitely one to keep an eye on. The same goes for her young Essen teammates, especially for Katharina Piljic. She has been rock solid in defence and could make a big step this summer, with her contract running out in 2024.

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