After a standout debut season, Wolfsburg striker Wout Weghorst has not lost his prolific touch in 2019-20. In Düsseldorf, the Dutchman again underlined his importance to the Wolves' realizing their ambitions.
Few players have taken to life in the Bundesliga quite like Wout Weghorst. Brought in boasting a half-decent scoring record — 45 goals in 86 appearances for AZ Alkmaar — the 27-year-old is now starting to carve out a reputation as one of the most prolific Dutchmen to ever grace Germany's top flight.
Weghorst netted 17 times in a debut season in which player and club blew all expectations out of the water, clinching a top-six finish less than 12 months after needing to survive a relegation playoff with Holstein Kiel to retain their top-tier status.
In the current campaign, while Robert Lewandowski, Timo Werner and Paco Alcacer's goal-scoring exploits have grabbed the headlines, Weghorst has quietly amassed three in four games — including Friday's all-important equalizer against Düsseldorf.
Raising the curtain on Matchday 4, Wolfsburg passed up the chance to go temporarily top of the table, drawing 1-1 with Fortuna, though had every right to feel aggrieved given that there were questions about the legitimacy of the hosts' opener.
In the build-up to Niko Gießelmann's stunning strike — his first ever goal in the Bundesliga — replays suggested that the ball my have crossed the line with Matthias Zimmermann in possession.
"Quite simply and clearly, the ball was out," said an exasperated Weghorst when talking to DAZN after the game. "I know it's not easy making decisions like that, but I could see it from a good two meters away. [Josip] Brekalo knew it and he was right next to it. I don't need to see another replay. I know it was out."
Raising his teammates' game
Fortunately for Wolfsburg, their star striker was on hand to repair the damage. Weghorst has now had a hand in 20 goals since the start of 2019 – a figure only matched by reigning Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski, but the fate of the team took the gloss off any personal positives.
"It's a positive thing," Weghorst told DAZN. "It's super and I'm happy about it, but it's hard to take any joy from stuff like that tonight."
An unorthodox player who never came through a youth academy, Weghorst's ability to consistently get among the goals is impressive, but his ability to raise the performances of those around him makes him irreplaceable for the Wolves.
The latest beneficiary on Friday night was Josip Brekalo, who struggled to assert himself under previous head coaches, but is enjoying a new lease of life under Oliver Glasner, appointed in the summer. The dynamic winger's assist drew high praise from a striker with exacting standards.
"What Josip did [for my goal] was super," continued Weghorst. "We've been building up a real rapport recently. We're training a lot together, we're talking a lot together. He wins his challenge well, produces a super nutmeg and he put the ball on a plate. It's my job to put it in the back of the net."
Here, you see Weghorst literally lifting up the goal's creator Josip Brekalo, encouraging teammates to congratulate the architect rather than the builder
It was a job he did with unerring efficiency last season as his goals helped Wolfsburg secure a return to the continental stage in the UEFA Europa League. Despite Glasner's new style requiring time to take full effect, the aims are no less lofty this season.
"For me, we've let two points slip, just like we did two weeks ago — and now it's happened again," bemoaned Weghorst. "I think with the team we've got and the targets we've set ourselves, we can't be happy with just one point."
A winning mentality that has been sorely lacking at times in Wolfsburg, further proof that Weghorst's goals aren't the only reason he's crucial to the Wolves realizing their ambitions in 2019-20.