Why Florian Wirtz's return to form is key to Leverkusen's title pursuit

Bayer Leverkusen have been one of the most impressive teams so far this season, and Florian Wirtz has been at the heart of their early season form that sees them top the Bundesliga. 


Wirtz, with a WhoScored rating of 7.49, has been directly involved in a goal every 69 minutes. His phenomenal start has mirrored that of his club, who are one of only three teams to still remain unbeaten in Europe's top five leagues. 


This isn’t a player who is just breaking through. During the 2021/22 season, the then 18-year-old bagged 10 goals and 14 assists in 31 matches across all competitions, and was regarded as one of the best teenage talents in Europe. 


But an ACL rupture at the end of that season put him out of action for over eight months. Cruciate injuries can be tricky to fully overcome, and there were doubts over the German’s ability to recreate his pre-injury form. 


But Wirtz is now reminding everyone that he is back to his best and is here to stay. 


Florian Wirtz’s Transfer Value (xTV) - how much is he worth? 


According to FootballTransfer’s player valuation model, Wirtz has a current Expected Transfer Value (xTV) of €37.3m. His value had peaked at €79m just before his injury, but saw a dramatic decline after he sat out almost all of 2022.


Why Florian Wirtz's return to form is key to Leverkusen's title pursuit



His form this season has rekindled the interest of Europe’s top clubs, with Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich all reported to be closely monitoring his situation.


A January move looks unlikely, but at this rate Leverkusen can brace themselves to be bombarded by offers in the summer. In addition, a long-term contract until 2027 means that it will take a significant sum to prise him away. 


Florian Wirtz’s strengths and weaknesses - what does the data say? 


Xabi Alonso quickly realised the extraordinary talent he had at his disposal. Wirtz thrives between the lines and this is exactly the role that Alonso asks of him - deployed as one of the two advanced midfielders in a 3-4-3 system. 


It is from these positions that he uses his spatial awareness, vision and creativity to make things tick for his team. 


The 20-year-old is exceptional on the ball, and his 75 touches and 59 passes per 90 show that he is always looking to get involved in the action. The verticality of his passing also shines through on the pitch, and he ranks among the top 2% of his position group in the Bundesliga for progressive passes per 90. 


Wirtz also makes almost three key passes per 90, and is able to disguise his passes and find his team mates through even the smallest of gaps. This is why no player has created more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities than the Germany international (8) in the league this season. 


The fluidity of Leverkusen’s system gives Wirtz the freedom to move around and drop deeper than you would expect from someone playing in his position. Here is where he combines his dribbling and ball-carrying ability to drive forward and attack the box from deep. 


This also comes across in the data, as his three successful take-ons and 4.6 carries into the final third per 90 rank him among the best players from his position group in the German top tier. 


The right-footed attacker’s mere presence demands extra attention from the opposition and helps create space for his teammates. This has allowed the likes of Victor Boniface, Jonas Hofmann and Alex Grimaldo to have equally impressive campaigns. 


All of the above sometimes tends to overshadow his goal scoring but he has an underrated ball striking ability that will always see him among the goals. 


Wirtz might not be the most physically dominant player, and as WhoScored point out he is weak in aerial duels, which is his only significant weakness. 


But Wirtz’s agility and mobility still allows him to contribute defensively. He aggressively presses the opposition and recovers a solid 5.69 balls per 90, most of which are in the opposition third. 


This is a crucial season for the German international, with his country hosting the Euros next summer. If he keeps up strong performances for both club and country, he can join the likes of Jude Bellingham in taking the step to the elite.


This article was provided by FootballTransfers

Why Florian Wirtz's return to form is key to Leverkusen's title pursuit