As Kai Havertz finally secured a move to for Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, Florian Wirtz, has been touted to be his replacement.
Although Havertz was understandably a fan favourite at the BayArena, someone has to take that role since he is no more with the team. The Sporting Director Rudi Völler had recently described Wirtz as Leverkusen’s best-ever player. This might be a surprise or a little public pushback against the 21-year-old’s claim.
This is because Bayer had finished as Bundesliga runners up five times and as runners-up to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final in 2002, having the likes of Michael Ballack, Toni Kroos and Arturo Vidal in their rank.
So, losing Havertz who had a big impact at the club and it will be a huge role to fill. Havertz had scored 46 goals and created 31 assists in 150 appearances in all competitions with Leverkusen despite playing from the midfield.
Florian Wirtz capable of continuing from where Kai Havertz stopped
Although there might be some argument as to whether Wirtz is Leverkusen’s greatest ever player, there can be very little that he is one of the most promising midfielders on the planet.
With the midfielder, die Werkself have a player on an alarmingly similar trajectory.
Havertzhad emerged winner of the Fritz Walter Gold medal, an award recognising the most promising youth talents in Germany, at U19 level in 2018.
Wirtz, on the other hand, had already won gold at the U17 level while Havertz was also Leverkusen’s youngest debutant before him.
Witz made his senior debut just two weeks after his 17th birthday in a 4-1 win at Werder Bremen in May. He later overtook Havertz as Leverkusen’s youngest scorer when he scored in a 4-2 loss to champions Bayern Munich (17 years and 34 days).
One of his features is finding spaces behind defences. Such was obvious when he scored his goal against the European champions, outsmarting Lucas Hernandez, before shooting past Manuel Nuer.
He also has the technique to work the ball onto his supposedly weaker left foot, and the confidence to play.
“Flo can do everything. He’s playful, has great technique, incredible game intelligence, is fast with the ball and is a great dribbler.
“If he stays fit, he’s at least in the same category as Havertz,” explained Jörg Jakobs, academy director at Wirtz’s former club Cologne.
With seven Rückrunde games in his record so far, Wirtz has at least given fans and scouts alike enough of a sample size.
Wirtz and Havertz’s stats
Havertz’s pass completion last season was 87.5 percent while Wirtz’s was 82.5 percent. Havertz plays up centrally, giving him a wider range of recipients than Wirtz plays on the right. Havertz had 67 touches per 90 minutes against Wirtz’s 58,.
But the younger man beat Havertz to the stats for duels won. Havertz beat his man an average of 12 times per game last season. while Wirtz, who is still in school, outdid players sometimes nearly twice his age an average of 16 times per 90. He did this with steel and silk.
With these qualities, Leverkusen might have found an immediate replacement for Havertz.
“He has a combination of potential and extreme determination which is extremely rare. I’ve rarely seen an attacking player who works so hard at tracking back, despite the fact he could rely solely on his offensive ability. He wants to win every defensive duel as well, and that makes him a complete player,” Jakobs added.