Wout Weghorst is officially a Manchester United player; the seventh signing of Erik ten Hag’s reign.
His transfer was announced by the club yesterday after a deal was agreed between Besiktas, Burnley, and United. United have paid Besiktas – who had a €10million option-to-buy clause included in their original loan deal – €2,850,000m in reparation costs for the termination of Weghorst’s contract.
The Dutch striker will remain at Old Trafford until June 30.
Weghorst, 30, has played in numerous countries throughout his career, beginning in the Netherlands and most recently in Türkiye.
The striker’s most prominent spell, however, took place in Germany. Scoring 59 Bundesliga goals in 118 appearances garnered him the reputation of being a clinical finisher.
With such a desperate loan deal, however, could Weghorst result in being a potential Ighalo-esque calamity or a low-risk (financially-speaking) adept goalscorer?
To get more of an insight into Weghorst’s qualities, his aptitude for playing at Old Trafford, and whether he can thrive under Erik ten Hag’s stewardship from a German perspective, we spoke with Marie Schulte-Bockum, a football journalist and Bundesliga expert.
How would you best describe Wout Weghorst?
“I would say he’s that one-dimensional target-man, but I actually think that’s a good thing and it’s become a bit of a rare breed, as we saw at the World Cup – who knows how far Germany would have gotten in the World Cup with the chances they created if they had a proper target man in the box, like Wout Weghorst? So I actually think that’s one of his strengths.
“In terms of being dynamic, I would say his technique is a lot better than you would assume for his stature. He’s scored some beautiful bicycle kicks and that kind of thing.
“I think he’ll definitely be an asset to Manchester United.”
Did Wolfsburg have to adapt their style of play to suit Weghorst’s qualities?
“I would say that Wolfsburg did not have to adapt their style of play [to suit Weghorst’s qualities] because Wolfsburg traditionally is a team that plays with that type of centre forward (e.g., Edin Dzeko).
“Actually since Weghorst left they’ve had a lot of trouble because they don’t have that type of striker anymore. They tried Luca Waldschmidt and more recently they tried two people up front.
“But I actually think they miss that type of player and miss Weghorst a lot.”
Do you see this six-month loan being successful?
“I’d say it’s a risk – the six-month loan – because Manchester United is a club where a lot of coaches and players, that I thought would do very well in the Premier League, have struggled; people like Ralf Rangnick and Bastian Schweinsteiger. It seems to be a club in disarray.
“I think the one perk that they do have going for them in this particular deal is, of course, that Erik ten Hag is Dutch and maybe he can get the best of Wout Weghorst. Then once you have the club and fans, the supporters on your side, anything can happen.”
What is your overall view on (ex-)Bundesliga players transitioning over to Premier League football?
“It’s hard to generalise about Bundesliga players moving to the Premier League because some of the promising ones, like Jadon Sancho at Manchester United, have not lived up to expectations.
“I would say perhaps even defensive players have been better, we saw Bochum’s defender [Armel Bella-Kotchap] go to Southampton and make the World Cup squad for Germany this year.
“Perhaps tactically, they’re well-schooled to play in the PL. But I’d say attacking players – who are always the flagship signings – it’s more of a struggle for them, with the notable exception of Erling Haaland!”
What do you think Ten Hag has brought with him from his time at Munich through to Manchester?
“I think at Bayern he learned to work very well with young players at the Bayern campus and Bayern have a really good academy these days. The Bayern players who worked with him in the second team, in Germany’s third division, they all speak very highly of him.
“So, I think he’s a good communicator – whether he always was one or whether he picked that up at Bayern, I don’t know – but he seems to work very well with young players, which, of course, has sometimes been an issue at Manchester United, such as with Jose Mourinho who perhaps does better with that older generation.”
Reason to remain optimistic but also reason to hold caution. With Anthony Martial‘s perennial injury struggles and lack of form, however, Weghorst will be relied upon more than what may have been assumed. Indeed, his role as an out-and-out target-man is expected to be useful for one of the lowest scoring teams in the top half of the League table.
What is clear is if Ten Hag can manage the difficult task of unearthing Weghorst’s capabilities displayed during his time in the Bundesliga, the Dutch centre forward could prove to be an excellent striking option for United’s current diversity-lacking forward line.
You can find some of Marie’s selected works here.