Borussia Dortmund youth coordinator Lars Ricken has defended the club's young wonderkid Youssoufa Moukoko after doubts were cast on the 12-year-old's real age.
Moukoko has made a startling impact in the BVB junior ranks, starring for their Under-17 side despite a considerable age difference between the youngster and his team-mates.
He also netted on his debut for Germany Under-16s, but his rapid rise has left some skeptical — even within the Dortmund set-up.
"With Youssoufa, I can imagine that his age has only been guessed," Timo Preus, manager of the BVB U-23s, told Spox.
"Maybe in reality he is one or two years older. But certainly he is not 17. For him that is very difficult. There is nothing to blame him for, the boy is not cheating or anything."
Ricken, however, insists that Moukoko's age has not been under-represented and it is his merit that has earned him a place in a higher group.
"He is twelve years old. That is a fact and there is no doubt about it. Some media reports about him have been disappointing," the former Germany international told Ruhr Nachrichten.
"He plays in our U-17 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."