Bundesliga News

Leverkusen's magic man: Florian Wirtz

By Ben Sully   @SullyBen

It is time for the fourth instalment of our Bundesliga's Brightest Talents series.

We could dedicate a whole array of articles to the up and coming talent that is at Bayer Leverkusen's disposable.

The likes of Piero Hincapié, Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby seem set for glittering careers, but the one Leverkusen starlet who seems destined for greatness is Germany's very own Florian Wirtz.
Florian Wirtz.
Florian Wirtz.
Despite being in the early knockings of his career, Wirtz has already featured in over 70 matches for Leverkusen and has four international caps to his name. The Germany international’s rise to prominence has caught the attention of the biggest clubs in Europe and it is not surprising to see why.

In his first full season with Die Werkself, Wirtz netted eight goals in all competitions, while also picking up eight assists. Although impressive, that proved to be just the appetiser, with the 18-year-old going from strength to strength this term.

In 28 competitive appearances this season, Wirtz has already racked up ten goals, all while still managing to assist 13 this term. Perhaps what is most impressive is that he has outperformed both his expected goals and expected assists. In his 22 Bundesliga outings this term, Wirtz has netted on seven occasions compared to an xG of 5.3, while ten Bundesliga assists betters an xA of 7.1.

Those assists may showcase his passing prowess, but that is not where Wirtz’s qualities end. In the modern era with players encouraged to prioritise possession rather than risk losing the ball by going past opposition players, it is refreshing to see that Wirtz has the confidence to carry the ball. Only fellow Leverkusen man, Frimpong has carried the ball into the final third more than Wirtz in the Bundesliga this season. His close ball control has put him in the Bundesliga top ten for players dribbled past and progressive carries.

With an eye for a pass, the capability to drift past players with consummate ease and a goalscoring touch, it is no surprise that Wirtz features in the top ten for both shot-creating actions (SCA) and goal-creating actions (GCA) in the Bundesliga. Impressively, he is joint-first in the league in regard to GCA, with Wirtz and Muller both accumulating 22 GCA this season.

The statistics have undoubtedly demonstrated Wirtz’s range of qualities, but to focus solely on the numbers would be doing the 18-year-old a disservice.

Leverkusen’s star man is certainly the type of player that on his own justifies the cost of admission to any game he is involved in. An individual that can win a game on his own. Despite being 18, he is already one of, if not the most important player to a Leverkusen team that seems destined for a top-four finish.

As well as his incredibly footballing ability, he has already demonstrated that he has the temperament to play at the highest level. He has the ability to make the right decisions quickly, whether that is to play an extra pass, take on his man or even go for goal himself. Wirtz has football intelligence beyond his youthful years. He has the attributes and mentality to single-handedly win a game, making him one of the most important players in the Leverkusen squad.

With so many qualities already on display, there are not many visible weaknesses to Wirtz's game. Although, an improvement in his defensive capabilities would allow Wirtz to win the ball back in the final third, while developing his aerial game would only make him a greater prospect than he already is.

In the short-term, Wirtz will be aiming to star in Leverkusen's Europa League campaign, while helping his side qualify for the Champions League. If Leverkusen do indeed finish in the top four then next season, we could see Wirtz feature on the biggest stage in Europe. Wirtz has already shown that a potential Champions League campaign would not daunt him, and there is also the small matter of a World Cup this year that would only boost Wirtz's profile.

With some of the biggest clubs in Europe looking at the playmaker, Leverkusen will be aware that it is only a matter of time before Wirtz leaves, with all current indications pointing to a departure in the summer of 2023.

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