Wout Weghorst: A big man with even bigger ambitions
If you’re not a big follower of the Bundesliga then there is a reasonable chance that the 6 ft 6 inch Wout Weghorst has gone under your radar. It’s quite plausible that will change in the next few months though with the player talking up a move. Here we look to answer the question ‘Who is Wout Weghorst?’.
One step at a time
Weghorst’s early years were spent in the amateur ranks of NEO and DETO. It wasn’t until quite late on that a professional club took the plunge. That breakthrough came when Willem II signed him just 38 days prior to his 19th birthday. Things are rarely that straightforward though and after failing to make a first team appearance for the club he was moved on the next summer penning a deal with second tier club FC Emmen. The club had a mediocre campaign as they finished in the bottom half but Weghorst had left his mark on the division with a respectable return of eight goals in 28 appearances. That was enough to see him finish as the teams joint top scorer.
The next campaign got off to a decent start too with Weghorst bagging a goal in each of the opening two fixtures. Throughout the season, he notched another 11 taking his total tally for Emmen to 21 goals in 66 matches. Despite the goals of Weghorst, Emmen failed to compete at the top end of the Eerste Divisie. Come the summer Weghorst was gone – a free transfer to Heracles Almelo. A taste of life in the Eredivisie was here. His first taste of top tier football wasn’t without its struggles though as Heracles battled relegation with three wins in their last four ensuring their safety. Weghorst was a key feature to their play though racking up a total of 40 appearances across all competitions that yielded 10 goals and the first nine assists of his pro career.
The 2015/16 season was somewhat of a different story though as Weghorst helped Heracles to a sixth place finish and subsequent Europa League qualification as he notched two goals in their play-off success to take his overall season goal scoring to 15 in 39. The next year did see Weghorst take his first steps into Europe but not with Heracles. Iinstead, he did so with AZ Alkmaar who paid £1.4m for his services. That journey took Weghorst through the group stage of the competition but the knockout stage ended with an embarrassing 11-2 defeat to Lyon. That wasn’t his fault though and his confidence wasn’t effected as he finished the season with 18 goals and five assists.
The breakthrough season
By the time the 2017/18 season got underway, Weghorst had established himself as a solid centre forward in the Eredivisie and was certainly appreciated by his own teammates and fans. What was lacking was a real eye catching campaign that made the neutral stand up and take notice. 2017/18 proved to be that season. In the league AZ finished third ensuring automatic qualification to the Europa League whilst nine goals in the cup saw Weghorst top score as they reached the final, which ultimately ended in defeat to Feyenoord.
Weghorst donned the captains armband on several occasions throughout the season, which is testament to the player he’d become both on and off the field and in March he won his first call up for Holland making his debut against England as an 89th minute sub. His season ended with stats of 27 goals and eight assists meaning he contributed towards a goal every 94 minutes. Bigger clubs came calling.
Heading to Germany
An offer of £9.5m was too good for Alkmaar to turn down. With that, Weghorst signed for Bundesliga side Wolfsburg. In his first season in Germany, which was also his first in one of Europe’s top five leagues, Weghorst wasted no time in showing he could handle the step up. He scored 18 in 36, including two hat-tricks, as well as laying on a further seven goals for teammates during a campaign that saw him miss just a solitary match.
The 2019/20 season was looking like being a positive one for Weghorst too before covid-19 stopped it in its tracks. A hand in 20 goals (15 goals, five assists) in 34 appearances can’t be knocked. He’s landed a recent PB win too with a 222 score. It came after netting all three goals in a 3-2 win away at Hoffenheim shortly prior to the covid-19 outbreak and saw him scoop the top forward and star player win.
Three other Bundesliga games were played before the enforced break with the big man adding a goal and an assist to his tally. Weghorst was suspended for the recent re-launch but he’ll likely be back in the XI for Saturday’s game with Dortmund – perhaps not the best of fixtures for him – but with several games left before the season close, don’t be surprised to see his goal tally grow considerably.
Style of play
Weghorst stands at 6’6 and regularly operates as a target man. You could be forgiven for assuming he’s just stuck up top to win the aerial battles. He’s much more talented than that though. We hate to throw around clichés but ‘not bad for a big man’ is something that fits – other than the fact it does him a disservice. A pretty substantial disservice too.
Yes, he can do the usual that you’d expect of a well built striker of 6’6, which is winning his fair share of flick-ons – he’s ranked fourth for aerial duels won across the Bundesliga this season – but his preference is to have the ball to feet so he can bring others into play before getting in the box, which is where he comes alive. His stats are proof that he’s handy in front goal and whilst his size aids him in the 18 yard area, it’s more often that his subtle yet clever movements are the thing that creates him his chances. When those chances come his way, they are rarely passed up whether they fall to his feet or his head.
Finally, there’s the reason his fans worship him. He’s a workaholic. You’ll regularly see him tracking towards his own goal to retrieve possession and he’s put in 694 sprints this season, which sees him behind just Dortmund pair Achraf Hakimi and Jadon Sancho, whilst he’s recorded more intensive runs than anybody else in the division.
What does the future hold?
Weghorst has recently talked up a desire to move to England in the future going as far as citing Liverpool as the dream destination. Whether a move of that magnitude awaits remains to be seen. At 27-years-old though he has plenty of miles left in the tank particularly given that he’s been pretty much injury free throughout his career.
His style wouldn’t be out of place in the Premier League and the demand for goal scorers will never go away. That said, if a move does come his way then it would be a surprise if it’s to one of the real top clubs but those who make up the chasing pack could do a whole lot worse.
There you have it, a little bit of insight into Wout Weghorst.