Bayer Leverkusen has a healthy reputation for producing creative midfield talents, and Florian Wirtz is the latest German wonderkid coming through the ranks at BayArena.
Born and raised in Brauweiler, just north of Cologne – where he lives with his family – Wirtz joined local club FC Köln in 2010 as a seven-year-old. He was described by the local Kölner Express newspapers as "the best midfielder to come through the club in 30 years" and those claims aren't sounding so ridiculous right about now.
Wirtz played an integral role in the FC Köln U17 team's charge to the German Championship in 2019. Suitors, believed to be Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Liverpool, all made swift inquiries.
Wirtz scored eight goals in ten U17 games in the 2019-20 season before Leverkusen came calling and secured his signature in January 2020, despite competition from a host of other elite clubs.
Wirtz started life at Leverkusen in convincing fashion with two goals & three assists in his first four U17 games and he was promptly called up to the first team, making his debut against Werder Bremen in May 2020. In so doing, he became the club's youngest-ever debutant and the Bundesliga's third-youngest player ever, at the age of 17 years & 16 days.
"He was important to us, that’s why I'm making an exception to speak about one player specifically. He played well right from the off, kept the ball well and pushed forward well too. It's always something special when you make a debut, especially when you're 17. All in all, it was a good performance by him, he wasn't nervous." – Leverkusen head coach Peter Bosz on Wirtz's debut.
📊 Florian Wirtz quick bio
- 🗓 DOB: 03 May 2003
- 🏟 Club: Bayer Leverkusen
- 🥾 Position: Attacking midfielder
- 🧐 Similar to: Julian Brandt
Wirtz is a dynamic, mobile & creative midfielder. He likes to take control of games with creative passing from a deeper position or in the classic number 10 role but is also comfortable starting from wider areas and carrying the ball into dangerous territory.
He's a direct goal-threat, as evidenced by his four top-flight strikes already this season, but he also likes to lay chances on a plate for his teammates. Wirtz's versatility and in-game intelligence, even at the age of just 17, provide a strong indication that we are witnessing quite a special talent developing here.
💶 Wirtz's value
According to transfermarkt, Wirtz is the third-most valuable footballer on the planet born in 2003. They estimate his current value to stand at €24m, with Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and Lyon's Rayan Cherki the only two of his age-mates who are currently worth more in the current climate.
🌊 Florian Wirtz making waves in 2020-21
- First player in Bundesliga history to score five top-flight goals before their 18th birthday.
- Four goals & five assists in 17 Bundesliga appearances.
- Two goals & an assist in five Europa League appearances.
Bayer Leverkusen's latest prodigy follows in the considerably large footsteps of Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt. Having recently extended his contract until 2023, the club's confidence in the talented youngster's ability is as sky-high as his massive potential.