When Borussia Dortmund signed the young German starlet from 1860 Munich on the 8th of June 2015, not many had even heard his name before. He had played an exceptional season with 1860 Munich, who collectively had a disastrous season in the second tier of German football. He had also become the youngest club captain, in one of the most traditional clubs in Germany.
A few starts and a couple of Europa league games at most were reasonable expectations for a 19-year-old in his debut season in Germany’s first division. A loan move might have been considered. No one expected the prodigy from Bad Aibling to debut in front of 81 359 Westfalenstadion faithful just two months later. He transitioned from one tier to another seamlessly.
On his debut in the 4-0 demolition of Borussia Mönchengladbach, he completed 79 out of 84 passes maintaining a staggering 94% pass accuracy. He also managed 2 key passes from the holding midfield position. Weigl dislodged the likes of Sven Bender, 11 million euro summer signing Gonzalo Castro and Moritz Leitner.
His attitude and his lean stature was criticised upon arrival. He was stripped of his captain’s armband in Munich for spending a drinking night out with friends one day before a game. His discipline and concentration, though, has improved thoroughly since his arrival at Dortmund, leading Thomas Tuchel to say: “Julian has made a very good impression the whole time he’s been here. He is thrilling us with his briskness and carefree attitude. At the same time, he displays the ability to learn and to soak things up. He is a totally clear, cordial and open young man.”
Now three months on, Weigl maintains an average completion rate of 93% of his passing attempts, and additionally he averages two tackles and three interceptions per game. and he is a fine package. He has gone on to start 14 out of the 17 Bundesliga games.
Now, however, the scenario is different. Dortmund’s highly successful Hinrunde has just come to a close. They sit high and pretty on the 2nd position however, but come the Ruckrunde Julian Weigl’s competition list may just increase. Fan favourite Nuri Sahin is set to return and it remains to be seen if the injury prone Turkish maestro can take over as Dortmund’s defensive midfielder.
Weigl’s ‘number 6’ position has resulted in him being overlooked. He controls the game at his own pace and manages tackles and interceptions each game. He is a huge factor in Dortmund’s improved defence since the shambolic 2014-15 season. He has played a Busquets-esque role and his confidence on the ball and his ability to switch play swiftly is often disregarded. Much like Sergio Busquets at Barcelona and many holding midfielders in general, Julian Weigl is not given enough credit for the work he puts in each game.
Whatever the situation come February, Weigl has been the Hinrunde’s most successful and underrated signing. He is not flashy like Bayern’s new 30 million euro speedster Douglas Costa, who already has seven assists in twelve league matches, not has Weigl scored buckets of goals like Javier Hernandez has so far at Leverkusen after leaving Manchester United this summer. But Weigl’s 2.5 million price tag and his age puts him on top of the best summer transfers list.