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Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz slowly getting back to his best

Jörg Strohschein
March 5, 2023

Florian Wirtz is battling back from his ACL injury and is slowly returning to form. Against Hertha Berlin, the Leverkusen playmaker delivered a sensational assist.

Florian Wirtz fights for the ball against Hertha Berlin
Florian Wirtz is slowly returning to his best formImage: Wunderl/Beautiful Sports/IMAGO

Florian Wirtz is still looking for his old confidence. The odd ball escapes his control, the occasional pass doesn't find a teammate. Against Hertha Berlin on matchday 23, the Leverkusen playmaker battled through the rust, but his teammates showed no signs of frustration. They're just happy that Wirtz is back playing at this level after suffering a painful ACL injury in his knee last year.

Wirtz's spectacular assist for Moussa Diaby to score Leverkusen's third in a 4-1 win was proof of the 19-year-old's exceptional abilities. Wirtz received the pass from Diaby and as he turned towards goal he unleashed a beautiful pass to split the defense and set up his French teammate.

It was this moment of brilliance that made it easier for his teammates to forgive the occasional poor touch. In eight appearances this season, Wirtz has four assists. In a total of 68 Bundesliga games, the German teenager has 13 goals and 20 assists — no one has managed that before in the Bundesliga.

In Leverkusen until 2024

"We are a better team with Florian, and because of him I am a better coach. But we can't hope that he will do it all alone. That isn't right for him or us," said Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso recently.

Wirtz's contract at Leverkusen runs until 2027, but it seems unlikely that the youngster will remain at the club until then. However, the Wirtz family does not seem easily swayed by more lucrative offers from other teams. Europe's top clubs have been getting in line for quite some time and if Leverkusen do not qualify for European football this season then offers will likely increase.

Wirtz's father Hans-Joachim, who is also his son's agent, gave hope to Leverkusen and their fans though.

"Florian has a long-term contract with Bayer. We are interested in fulfilling as much of it as possible," Hans-Joachim said recently. "Of course, every young player wants to play with the best but until the Euros in 2024 Florian is best placed at Leverkusen."

Flick looks to Wirtz

There is a reason Germany head coach Hansi Flick was disappointed to get the news ahead of the 2022 World Cup that Wirtz would miss out due to injury. In Flick's future plans for Germany, the teenager has a big role to play. Flick is hoping that at the home European Championships in 2024 Wirtz will be back to his full strength and give Germany a decisive boost in quality.

After 82 minutes against Hertha, Wirtz's shift was done. A handshake from head coach Alonso and a big round of applause from Leverkusen's home crowd was recognition of his performance and presence. After all, those in Leverkusen know how special this 19-year-old is.

This article was originally written in German.