Unless you're an avid follower of German football, or a die-hard Augsburg supporter, the name Felix Uduokhai probably bears very little significance to you - but it won't for much longer.
The Bundesliga is home to some of the best defenders in the world, with the likes of Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Niklas Sule being nurtured to become established superstars of the modern game.
They may have to make space for the next generation of jewels, however, who will not hesitate in leaving Germany for pastures new. And German outfit Augsburg may be forced to fend off one of the real giants of European football, as Uduokhai, along with Lille defender Sven Botman, has been named as a possible Liverpool transfer target this winter.
But what do we know about Uduokhai? 90min gives you the lowdown on Germany's next rising star.
1. David Alaba regen
What kind of centre-back is he then? Well, the closest comparison that has regularly been drawn is that of David Alaba. Left-footed centre-backs are hard to come by nowadays, particularly in the Bundesliga, but Uduokhai ticks that box nicely.
He has also spent time learning his trade at left-back and holding midfield, much like Alaba, but looks most at home in the heart of the back line. His midfield days have made him extraordinarily calm in possession, meaning he is the perfect ball-playing centre-back.
Unlike the Bayern star, Uduokhai is a towering presence in defence, standing 6'2 tall - an imposing figure for strikers to face. Unsurprisingly, he has won the most aerial duels for Augsburg this season.
2. Road to glory
It's not been a simple road to becoming a Bundesliga star for Uduokhai, though. He moved to 1860 Munich’s youth academy aged just 11, and was thrown into the deep end with the team struggling as an inexperienced 19-year-old back in 2016.
He played the full 90 minutes on 19 occasions that season, and his calm and commanding displays convinced Wolfsburg to take a gamble on the teenager.
He started brightly with the Wolves, but later lost his place in the team. A loan move to Augsburg was quickly made permanent in the summer of 2020 after impressing at his new home, and he has only gone from strength to strength ever since.
3. Rare Germany international
He may only be 23 years old, but Uduokhai is already following in some rarely trodden footsteps in German football history. He has featured for Germany at Under-19, 20 and 21 level, and on 6 November 2020, he earned his first call-up for the senior team.
That made him only the fourth player in Augsburg's history to earn a call-up for the German national team while representing the Fuggerstädter.
Unfortunately, he was not handed the opportunity to step onto the pitch, and so he can still decide to play for Nigeria instead, due to his dual nationality.
4. The Joachim Low seal of approval
As mentioned, he is yet to make his debut for the German national team, but the words of encouragement from coach Joachim Low may convince him not to switch allegiances for now.
Speaking after handing Uduokhai his first call-up, Low placed his trust in the defender, and declared that it was a 'reward' for his brilliant form in the 2020/21 campaign.
"We don't call up anyone who we don’t trust can do it," Low said. "We want to reward players like Hofmann, Neuhaus, Max or Uduokhai for their performances."
Surely, his senior debut is in the offing.
5. Scorer of big goals
The tall, powerful centre-back also poses a threat in both penalty areas, and although he doesn't find the back of the net on a regular basis from set pieces, he does pop up with some vital goals for club and country.
Uduokhai bagged his first goal for Augsburg in their surprise 2-0 victory over giants Borussia Dortmund this season, rising to glance a superb header beyond the goalkeeper.
He was also on the scoresheet against England for Germany's Under-21 side, springing up at the far post to smash the ball home in injury-time, giving the visitors a precious 2-1 victory. The big man for the big occasion.
6. Premier League ready
All of these factors only point to the fact that Uduokhai is built for the demands of the Premier League. His physical presence, comfort on the ball and versatility across the pitch make him an exciting prospect for any manager.
And many English clubs will see the Augsburg star as a cheaper alternative to the general idea of splashing the cash on a superstar of the game, especially at such a particularly difficult time for the football economy.
Coincidentally, these are all key factors that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and sporting director Michael Edwards will be analysing in their hunt to bolster their depleted defence. Could Uduokhai be the answer to their prayers this January?
Source : 90min