Player Profile: Florian Wirtz
The latest in a line of supremely talented German playmakers, Florian Wirtz has been making a name for himself in this year’s Bundesliga season. Stephen Kinninmonth profiles the Bayer Leverkusen starlet, who has been tipped for big things by many in the world of football.
Mesut Özil. Thomas Müller. Julian Draxler. Germany is certainly well renowned for producing world class playmaking midfielders, and it looks like they have gone and done it again.
So far this season, Florian Wirtz has been on red-hot form for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. The 18-year-old has his side sitting well within the European places in the German top flight, and has contributed heavily to Leverkusen’s currently unbeaten Europa League group stage campaign.
From just over 900 minutes of football this season, the midfielder has 14 goal contributions. That averages out at a goal contribution every 65 minutes. Considering the quality and calibre of the competitions he is playing in, at just 18-years-old, Wirtz’s output is already huge and he is only set to improve.
After watching him first-hand when he came to Glasgow to face Celtic, for his side’s Europa League clash, I could tell I was watching a player who is set to go onto even bigger and better things. Every time he touched the ball, he looked like he was going to create something. He absolutely ran the show and was incredibly exciting to watch. Claiming a goal and creating many chances, the teenager would have easily claimed Man of the Match, had it not been for the goalkeeping heroics of his teammate, Lukáš Hrádecký, who put in an incredible performance.
Speaking after the match, Hrádecký was full of praise for his young teammate, saying, “He’s an awesome player. Now it’s important that he stays grounded in the dressing room. He’s doing outstandingly well, though, and is working hard on himself. Maybe he’ll have a beer with me today. After all, he’s 18 now, so he’s allowed to do that.”
Many in world football have been comparing Wirtz’s recent rise to that of former Leverkusen midfielder, Kai Havertz. However, if you look at the stats, Wirtz seems to be having more of an impact and providing better performances than the Chelsea playmaker. When at the same age, he has so far scored nine goals in the Bundesliga compared to Havertz’s four – granted, he has played more games. Both are remarkably similar when it comes to setting goals up, as the 18-year-old has 11 assists compared to the Chelsea midfielder’s 10.
In March 2021, Florian Wirtz received his first call-up to the German national side. However, he did not manage to receive his first cap – he went on to do that as he came on as a substitute against Lichtenstein in a comfortable 2-0 win back in September, making him the third-youngest player to represent Germany since 1945. He has since gone on to receive a further three caps for his country’s senior team.
Suffice to say, Hansi Flick, head coach of the German national team, is a massive fan of Wirtz’s and spoke about the youngster, saying, “Florian is just a huge asset for this team through his carefreeness. He’s simply an outstanding technician, loves to play, very creative, has a good shot, runs hard and is quick. He’s got a good total package.”
The dynamic offensive teenager has also been nominated for the Golden Boy award in 2021, alongside big prospects such as Pedri, Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood. Although he is not one of the favourites for the award, the fact that his talent has been recognised and he is being compared with these players, who are said to be set to be the top players in the world in the years to come, is massive.
Although the German has not only been recognised by journalists around the world, he has also attracted transfer interest from many of football’s biggest clubs; Bayern Munich; Manchester City; and Liverpool to name a few. However, it has been reported by SportBild that Leverkusen do not want to sell Wirtz before 2023 and that they believe his value will soar above £100 million and I am almost certain that this will be the case. He will still only be 20 come 2023, so if he keeps playing how he is and continues to improve week-on-week, then I am sure his club, Bayer Leverkusen, will be set to receive a very tidy fee indeed.
Remember the name; Florian Wirtz.