Bayer 04 Leverkusen wunderkind Florian Wirtz could be set for a longer stay at the BayArena. The 19-year-old attacking midfielder is one of Germany’s brightest young stars and has been on Bayern Munich’s radar for some time. However, his father Hans Wirtz recently explained to German outlet kicker that he believes Leverkusen still offers a great situation in the near future for the younger Wirtz’s development.
“Of course, every young player wants to play with the best, but Florian is in good hands with Bayer until the 2024 European Championship,” the elder Wirtz said.
Wirtz is coming off an ACL tear that caused him to miss all of the 2022/23 season to date as well as the FIFA Men’s World Cup last month. But his two previous campaigns, at just seventeen and eighteen years of age, were revelatory. He already has 13 goals and 16 assists in the Bundesliga to his name.
And it’s a refreshing attitude to see from the player’s camp. Leverkusen are languishing now — currently 12th place out of eighteen in the bottom half of the league table. They’ve a mountain to climb to get back into the European spots. But they’re still the club that nurtured his talents — and there’s the sense that the Wirtzes are trying to make sure they get the timing of their next move right, rather than snatch at the first opportunity to cross their path.
The last Leverkusen attacking mid to make a big leap may be a cautionary tale. Kai Havertz arrived at Chelsea FC at 21, but has battled his way through a crowded roster, multiple coaching and position changes, and the weight of huge expectations after the €85m transfer fee used to secure him. If Leverkusen don’t offer the glitziest of platforms on which to play, they do give Wirtz the chance to blossom. There, he’ll have another season at least of being his team’s best player and directing an attacking setup already familiar to him.
(According to Transfermarkt, Wirtz is already rated at €70m).
By the time the 2024/25 season rolls around — after Germany’s hosting of the 2024 EURO — the biggest club in the land may have a more natural spot for him as well. Thomas Müller will be 35 then, and at least presently, his contract expires in ‘24. Right now, Bayern have an abundance of attacking talent, while any number of clubs in England or Spain might not say the same. But that could look a lot different by 2024. With the Rekordmeister always on the lookout for top German talent, this could be a case of a player and club’s timelines aligning perfectly.
And if Wirtz gets to quietly use 2023/24 to hone his craft before arriving? One suspects that would suit the Bavarians grandly.