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Ones to Watch | Florian Wirtz; Bayer Leverkusen’s German wunderkind

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In a football world filled with countless stars of today, so many of us are curious about who is waiting in the wings.

That next wunderkind, a youngster that has the potential to make us stand up and marvel at how they are masters of their craft despite their tender age.

With this in mind, we at 101 Great Goals will be bringing you another weekly series; this time, taking a look at players across the world that are 21-years-old or younger. Some of them you will have no doubt heard of, while we hope to bring you a few new names to spark your curiosities every now and then.

 

Name: Florian Wirtz

Age: 18-years-old

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Place of Birth: Pulheim, Germany

Citizenship: Germany

National team caps: 4

Current club: Bayer Leverkusen

Current Market Value (per Transfermarkt): €70m

Potential suitor(s): Manchester United, Liverpool

Though Bayer Leverkusen has not been able to achieve sustainability in the top echelon of the Bundesliga the likes of Borussia Dortmund when it comes to not only achieving regular Champions League football but also trying to mount a challenge against German giants Bayern Munich, what Die Werkself have been highly successful at in North Rhine-Westphalia is supplying clubs both at home and abroad a wealth of gifted players across almost two decades in the wake of the disaster that was Euro2000 for the German national team.

Both through its own academy ranks and being heralded as one of the top development centers in Germany, players the likes of Toni Kroos, Benjamin Henrichs, Christoph Kramer, Bernd Leno, Len Bailey, Kai Havertz, and Julian Brandt have called the Bay Arena home for a period of time.

The next big name that is on the verge of busting through the doors at Kurtekotten is none other than 18-year-old German wunderkind Florian Wirtz.

Despite suffering a devastating torn ACL this past weekend against 1.FC Köln which could be set to keep him out of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, Wirtz has set the Bundesliga alight this season to the tune of 7-goals and 10-assists across twenty-four league appearances with that number climbing to 10-goals and 14-assists across all competitions in just 31-appearances. But his meteoric rise is familiar in that part of Germany.

Kai Havertz achieved similar great things at such a young age, to similar acclaim when he propelled himself up the ladder of most gifted young footballers in Europe, but Wirtz has perhaps eclipsed his countrymen in many respects, not just in terms of ability but also potential.

Ones to Watch | Number 3: Florian Wirtz

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 25: (BILD OUT) Florian Wirtz of Bayer 04 Leverkusen celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and 1. FSV Mainz 05 at BayArena on September 25, 2021 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

As of the Winterpause in the current 2021-22 Bundesliga season, Wirtz was one of the leading performers in successful attacking actions/90, xA/90, progressive passes/90, and through passes/90.

Simply put, Wirtz has been one of the most dangerous attacking players in the country despite not even seeing his 19th birthday yet, and his multifaceted capability in both the transition phase as well as in the final third has been absolutely vital for Bayer boss Gerardo Seoane.

His overall goal contributions stack well for an 18-year-old as well, directly contributing to a combined 41-goals (19-goals & 22-assists) in 78-appearances since his true breakthrough into the first team last season.

Though many will be keen to monitor how he gets on in the wake of his massive injury setback, top clubs around Europe the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Newcastle are all keen on bringing the Pulheim-native to new pastures for grazing. Regardless of his next port of call, Florian Wirtz could well be one of the best talents to ever emerge from Germany.






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