Meet Florian Wirtz, the breakout teenage star who recently became Bayer Leverkusen’s youngest-ever debutant in the Bundesliga.
|Full Name:||Florian Richard Wirtz|
|Born:||May 3, 2003|
|Clubs:||FC Koln (FC Cologne), Bayer Leverkusen|
|National team:||Germany (U-17 level)|
The Bundesliga has welcomed many promising unknown talents in the last few seasons. From Kai Havertz to Jadon Sancho, youngsters are taking centre-stage in Germany. And now an unfamiliar name in Florian Wirtz has entered the scene.
Just when nobody expected a new youngster to emerge, it happened on May 18. Peter Bosz boldly started the unknown Wirtz in a must-win game for Bayer Leverkusen away to Werder Bremen. It was the club’s first match since the league’s restart, ending in a 4-1 victory.
At just 17 years and 15 days old, Wirtz surpassed Kai Havertz as Leverkusen’s youngest debutant. He also became the Bundesliga’s third-youngest in history behind Nuri Sahin and Yann Aurel Bisseck. While Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott and Rayan Cherki of Lyon are the only two other players born in 2003 or later to play in a top 5 European league.
So just who is Florian Wirtz? And what lies ahead for this young midfielder? Here on Ronaldo.com, we give you everything there is to know about him.
Florian Wirtz’s football journey began in 2010 by joining the FC Cologne youth academy aged seven. He quickly progressed at the club. Before long several teams became interested, including Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Even Liverpool had expressed an interest.
In 2018, Wirtz graduated to Cologne’s U-17 team and made his mark. His performances in the club’s junior Bundesliga victory a year later was especially impressive, prompting more interest from rivals. Not only did he score in a 5-0 win over Bayern in the semi-final, but played a key role in helping Cologne beat Dortmund 3-2 in the final itself. Many were already tipping him for big things.
The 17-year-old enjoyed another strong campaign at youth level this season. He scored eight goals in 10 matches for the U-17 team, including one from the halfway line in December (see video below).
That was Wirtz’s last appearance for Cologne before joining local rivals Bayer Leverkusen a month later. But he went out with a bang by scoring a hat-trick in a 10-0 win over Wuppertal. A promotion to Die Werkself’s U-19 squad followed.
“When [sporting director] Simon Rolfes came to me some time ago and drew my attention to the fact that, surprisingly, an extremely talented player from the region was on the market and willing to make a switch, we went into negotiations,” managing director Rudi Voller told Kicker.
“It would have been negligent to not sign him. The 16-year-old attacking midfielder was on the wish list of many top clubs in and outside the country.
Despite his short time at the BayArena, the teenager quickly settled in. Wirtz became an instant regular for the U-19s, providing two goals and three assists in four games. Therefore, Bosz made him a first-team member in May.
Position and playing style
The Germany U-17 international is a midfielder, capable of playing centrally and down both sides of the wings. He started as a right-winger in his first-team debut. Thus, Bosz may play him in that position again in the upcoming fixtures.
The Leverkusen boss could also make use of Wirtz’s versatility by playing him as a playmaker.
Judging from his past exploits, Leverkusen fans got every reason to be excited over this one. Not only can Wirtz score long-range beauties, but he’s an ace-dribbler and a great passer. In fact, the youngster completed 87% of his passes on his senior debut.
And with a coach in Bosz by his side, the teenager has every reason to feel hopeful. The Dutchman has a history of introducing youngsters. He even gave Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt their big break at Ajax during his sole season in charge.
So it’s not surprising to see Bosz throw Wirtz into the deep end.
“Making your debut is always something special,” said the Leverkusen boss on Wirtz.
“All in all, it was a good performance from him, he wasn’t nervous.”