How Wout Weghorst can help United in their quest for silverware
The Netherlands striker has completed his surprise switch to Old Trafford and has the attributes to make a big impact on Erik ten Hag's team.
"The club has bought an unimaginable number of players in recent years who have not been good enough," Erik ten Hag told Voetbal International's Christmas magazine. "Most purchases have been average—and, at United, average is not good enough."
"United’s shirt weighs heavily." "Only real personalities who can perform under great pressure can play here."
We needed personalities. That’s why the acquisition of Casemiro was so important. "Along with Raphael Varane, we now have a second player who has experience winning titles," The Dutch mastermind added
Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, and Antony are all fighters, while Christian Eriksen is a technical winner with a great personality. We want the best of the best. "Any players we bring to Manchester United must meet the highest standard."
Few neutral fans would agree that Wout Weghorst falls into this category, though.
Most Burnley fans were happy to see the Dutch striker join Bestikas on loan after he produced a horrendous performance, scoring two goals in 20 appearances following a $12 million transfer during the January window.
Wout Weghorst failed to prove himself in the English top flight as the Clarets suffered relegation, but he has now been handed a shock second chance at United, one of the world’s biggest clubs, who are chasing a return to the Champions League and multiple trophies in the second half of the season.
Ten Hag made it no secret that he wanted a striker after losing Cristiano Ronaldo before the World Cup.
A few names were thrown around in the form of Cody Gapko and Jose Felix, but both went to Liverpool and Chelsea, respectively.
Marcus Rashford has stepped up, but Anthony Martial is still struggling for consistency, and Alejandro Garnacho remains a young pretender for now.
Weghorst can add a new dimension to Ten Hag’s squad and adapt to his system effortlessly.
Wout Weghorst is a relentless presser—you won’t see him trudging aimlessly when out of possession like Ronaldo did before his exit—and is surprisingly nimble with the ball at his feet for a man standing at an imposing height of 6'6".
United learned just how technically adept he is firsthand, as he produced a slick turn to evade Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay before setting up Jay Rodriguez to score for Burnley in a 1-1 draw between the two sides at Turf Moor last season.
Weghorst won’t be fazed if he starts among Ten Hag’s substitutes either. He produced the best cameo performance of the 2022 World Cup when he came on in the 78th minute of the Netherlands’ quarterfinal clash against Argentina, scoring twice to force the game into extra time.
The Oranje lost to the eventual tournament winners on penalties, but Weghorst scared the life out of Argentina with his aerial prowess and quick thinking in the box, with his second goal coming in the form of a stunning finish from a brilliantly executed free-kick routine.
Goals like that come easy for natural center forwards like Weghorst, who boasted a fearsome scoring record at the club level before his ill-fated move to Burnley. He managed 45 goals in 86 games for AZ Alkmaar in his homeland before recording 70 in 144 outings for Wolfsburg in Germany.
Indeed, Weghorst scored nine times for Besiktas in the first half of the season and bowed out with a trademark effort against Kasimpasa.
His arrival, then, should be met with excitement rather than apprehension among United fans.
The club’s former assistant coach, Rene Meulensteen, who worked under Sir Alex Ferguson during the legendary manager’s glorious final years at Old Trafford, aptly summed up why Ten Hag’s move for Weghorst could be a masterstroke.
"Ten Hag knows what he is doing, for sure," Meulensteen told BBC Sport. "He [Weghorst] offers something else that the other Manchester United forwards don't have."
"If United need to go a bit more direct and play off the knockdown, he is the type of guy that can offer that in the box." He is good at link-up play too; you can give him the ball and play through him.
Weghorst might not be the kind of fancy, big-name signing United supporters are used to, but he could be exactly what they need right now.
Cover Credits: BBCnews
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