Borussia Dortmund have moved to deny swirling tittle-tattle about one of their most highly-prized academy prospects, Youssoufa Moukoko, is the teenage whizkid he purports to be and not, in fact, a middle-aged man who conned his way into the club’s youth system.
Moukoko was born on 20th November, 2004, making him 12-years-old. Despite his tender years, the young striker has scored 17 goals in just eight appearances for Dortmund’s Under-17 side this season. He has also represented Germany at Under-16 level, scoring thrice in the space of four caps.
Unsurprisingly, his form has attracted a lot of attention of late, thought not all of it has been positive, with rumours abound that the prodigious Cameroon-born forward ain’t quite as prodigious as he claims to be.
The player’s father, Joseph Moukoko, is adamant that his son is 12-years old, confirming to BBC Worldwide that he has the legitimate documentation to prove it.
Straight after the birth, I registered him at the German embassy in Yaounde (Cameroon). We have a German birth certificate.
Assessing the situation with German sport website Spox, Timo Preus, manager of the Dortmund Under-23 side, didn’t seem quite so certain:
With Youssoufa, I can imagine that his age has only been guessed. Maybe in reality he is one or two years older.
But he is certainly not 17. For him that is very difficult. There is nothing to blame him for, the boy is not cheating or anything.
The ongoing conjecture has led Dortmund’s youth coordinator Lars Ricken to formally speak out in Moukoko’s defence, with the former Champions League-winning midfielder going on record to address the continuing conjecture.
In a bid to dispel the rumours once and for all, Ricken told Ruhr Nachrichten:
He is twelve years old. That is a fact and there is no doubt about it. Some media reports about him have been disappointing.
He plays in our Under-17 team because we believe that he belongs to this age class in a sporting way.
He plays in a very good team and has team mates, who support him well.
Of course, the right thing to do would be to allow Moukoko to develop in peace and at his own pace then possibly conduct MRI scans if, as and when required.
He certainly looks mature, but many young players in the past have. If he has the paperwork to prove it, then let him be.
Charlie Adam still claims to be 31, after all. Knocking at least 10 years off his real age never did him any harm.