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Player Profile – Wout Weghorst | What Will be the Dutch Centre-Forward’s Role at United?

Wout Weghorst, Manchester United, Besiktas

Manchester United have signed 30-year-old Dutch striker Wout Weghorst in the January transfer window. The Netherlands international has joined on a six-month loan deal from Championship side Burnley for a fee of £2.6m.

Weghorst had spent the first 6 months of the 2022-23 season on loan with Besiktas. The Manchester side paid £2.5m fee to the Turkish side to terminate the forward’s season-long loan deal. He had an impressive tally of 8 goals and 4 assists from just 16 games in the Super Lig.

Wout Weghorst
(Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

The Dutchman has also hit the ground running for the Red Devils, having already made 4 starts – 2 in the Premier League and 1 in the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup. He scored a goal against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup to give United a crucial 3-0 advantage in the first-leg. He also has 5 goals from 19 games for the National Team.

Player Career

Wout Weghorst began his professional career in the Eerste Divisie, the second tier of Dutch football. The 30-year-old striker earned a move to the Eredivisie after scoring 20 goals in 62 games across two seasons for FC Emmen.

Between 2014 and 2016, the Dutchman scored 20 goals and created five more for Heracles Almelo, earning him another move, to AZ Alkmaar. An impressive return of 32 goals and 9 assists meant Weghorst was on the move after two seasons yet again.

The right-footed striker joined VLF Wolfsburg, which would be the most productive stint of his career yet. In the span of four seasons, the 6ft 6in striker played 141 games, scoring 68 goals and creating 21 more. However, the Dutch forward failed to translate the same form in the Premier League for Burnley. Weghorst managed just 2 goals and 3 assists from 20 games as the Clarets got relegated in the 2021-22 season.

Burnley sent the Dutchman on loan to Besiktas, which was eventually cut short by the Red Devils. Manchester United paid a compensation fee of £2.5 million to the Turkish side to seal a move for Wout Weghorst. They have also significantly increased Weghorst’s salary as per reports.

Wout Weghorst: Player Profile

Towering at 6ft 6in, Weghorst seems like the prototype striker profile. Surprisingly, he is just above average in terms of finishing. Since the 2017 season, the Dutch striker has 66 goals from an accumulated xG of 67.4, a small underperformance.

Weghorst is not a classic “target man” profile either. He is adept at receiving the ball at his feet just in front of the defence, and bringing his teammates into play. The Dutchman could be ideal to hold up play and create spaces for runners from deeper areas, including Rashford, Antony, and Bruno Fernandes.

His smart movement without the ball could also create avenues for his teammates to receive chances. Therefore, the 30-year-old striker can have a high impact for United’s attack even if he is not scoring the goals himself.

Wout Weghorst is also a monster defensively. The 30-year-old is one of the most intensive forwards in the league in terms of pressing. This could allow Erik Ten Hag to effectively implement a high press scheme for the squad.

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A lot of fans perhaps expected Ten Hag to deploy a false-nine to spearhead his attack. This fits the free-flowing, possession-centric game the Dutch manager is often linked with. However, the former Ajax boss has often shown a preference for a more classic centre-forward profile in the past, the likes of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Kasper Dloberg, Brian Brobbey, and Sebastian Haller more often than the likes of a Dusan Tadic.

Wout Weghorst fits the sort of striker the Manchester United boss likes. Ten Hag can be the perfect piece in United’s well-oiled system. However, it is fair to expect that the 30-year-old needs some time to get adjusted to his new role and new teammates.

Therefore, fans must not be too discouraged by Weghorst’s early struggles with the team. The former Wolfsburg attacker could be a fantastic utility option to the side, and a good option to share minutes with Anthony Martial.

What are your thoughts on Wout Weghorst? How can Manchester United line up with him? Let us know in the comments.

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Adithya Ravi
Football enthusiast. Stat enthusiast

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