Florian Wirtz is the new CEO of Bayer Leverkusen and he has a lot of experience in football. He’s also been involved with Bayern Munich for many years, building up their youth academy.
Florian Wirtz is the future for Germany and Bayer Leverkusen. He has been a key player in the success of both teams, with his impressive performances and leadership skills.
With his victory for Bayer Leverkusen against Mainz recently, Florian Wirtz became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to achieve ten goals, and his efforts have drew widespread notice throughout Europe.
After making an impact at under-21 level for Germany, the offensive midfielder came on for the fourth time at senior level on Monday in a 4-0 victory over North Macedonia, registering an assist as his lay-off was brilliantly placed into the far corner by Timo Werner.
The 18-year-old is obviously destined for greatness, having been connected with all of Europe’s major teams, including Bayern Munich and Chelsea. When second-placed Leverkusen hosts Bundesliga leaders Bayern on Sunday (watch live on ESPN+ at 9.30 ET), what can his team and nation expect from him? And how far can he take his career?
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The background of Wirtz
Wirtz, a young star for FC Cologne, joined Bayer Leverkusen in January 2020, much to the chagrin of his old club, since the two clubs had an unspoken agreement not to compete for one other’s talents.
Wirtz was supposed to finish the season at U19 level, but after just a few months, then-Leverkusen head coach Peter Bosz had seen enough of the kid to give him his first-team debut only a week after his 17th birthday.
Wirtz has secured his spot in the first-team squad after becoming the club’s youngest player to participate in a competitive senior game. The youngster even scored against Bayern Munich towards the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, becoming him the youngest ever Bundesliga goal scorer at 17 years and 34 days — but that record has since been surpassed by Youssoufa Moukoko of Borussia Dortmund. He’s reached new heights this season.
Wirtz is mostly a center offensive midfielder, but he has played in various positions (left or right winger, or central midfielder) at the junior and senior levels. He usually plays behind a central striker in a 4-2-3-1 system for Leverkusen.
In his limited appearances for Germany, he has played in a similar position off the bench, but his prospects of getting a game have been low against the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Thomas Muller, Kai Havertz, and Jamal Musiala (among others).
Unlike many of his peers, who like to cut infield from wide positions to execute playmaking actions in the center, Wirtz seems to favor the more conventional understanding of the job, which involves picking up the ball deep in the center rather than on the wings.
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His short and medium-range passing is almost always well-balanced, with the proper angles, speed, and power. His outstanding first touch and refined ability to analyze offensive movement before receiving the ball saves him valuable seconds. He’s also refreshingly realistic in his approach to football; everything he does has a purpose, and he’s selfless enough to see the importance of pushing the ball forward rather than dribbling for the fun of it.
When he does face opponents, he does it with a specific goal in mind. Wirtz is a fantastic transition/counter-attack player above all else. When Leverkusen recover possession, he goes into the appropriate areas to receive the ball, and once in possession, he can advance fast and produce the perfectly executed through-pass or shot.
The end product — not just goals and assists, as he recently registered four key passes in 30 minutes of action for Germany against Armenia — is constantly improving, and being such a difference maker and having so many telling contributions is certainly unusual for an 18-year-old at the top level.
The manner in which Wirtz has handled himself and continued to improve over the last year, despite increased media attention and expectations, indicates he has a strong mindset. Look at his workmanlike attitude on the field, while being marketed as a creative player, if you need further proof.
Wirtz’s style of play is similar to that of Rafael van der Vaart, the ex-Ajax, Real Madrid, and Spurs midfielder, but the German is somewhat more agile and should go on to have a much more famous career than the 109-cap Netherlands international.
Improvements to be made
With one of Europe’s most promising adolescents, there are few flaws to be found (especially with his decision making and maturity high up on the list of strong points.) His lack of aerial ability has been cited as a drawback, but as a 5-foot-7 attacking midfielder, he’ll never be an excellent header of the ball — and with so much talent in the other areas of the game that matter to a player in his position, why should he be concerned about what happens in the air?
Meanwhile, he’s gradually improving in the less thrilling aspects of the game; he’s winning more challenges in the opponent’s half than last season, he tracks back methodically, and he seems physically more robust than when he initially broke through.
Where does he fit in?
Despite the fact that several of Europe’s best teams are keeping an eye on him, Wirtz is unlikely to leave anytime soon. His remarkable development has not gone unnoticed, yet unlike many other elite athletes, he has delegated his career planning to his parents.
The absence of pressure from an agent may help to quiet the speculation, and there are few better locations in Europe than Leverkusen to enhance your sports development. However, when Wirtz is ready to relocate, it will be at the appropriate moment and not on the cheap.
- kai havertz