If you were to believe everything you read, then Julian Weigl would be packing his bags to join Thomas Tuchel at Paris St Germain and ending his four year spell with Borussia Dortmund having lost his way. You shouldn’t however believe all you read, and Weigl could be set to reclaim his role as a central cog at BVB.
The speculation linking the midfielder with a move away from the Signal Iduna Park arose from the fact that Weigl had lost his way somewhat at Dortmund since the departure of Tuchel to Paris.
After making his debut with the Schwarzgelben at the start of the 2015/16 Bundesliga season following his €2.5 million move from 1860 Munich, he quickly developed into a key midfielder at BVB. The then new Dortmund trainer Thomas Tuchel handed Weigl a place in the starting line-up on matchday 1 against Borussia Mönchengladbach and was rewarded with an assured display. In a strange quirk, the Fohlen coach that afternoon was none other than Lucien Favre!
Weigl’s star was in the ascendancy and despite his tender years the ‘Wunderkind’ looked set to star for BVB for years to come.
A fractured ankle suffered in May 2017 kept him out for three months and that coincided with the departure of his mentor Thomas Tuchel. He struggled under both Peter Bosz and Peter Stöger to replicate his earlier prowess and things came to head last season with Dortmund’s signing of midfield pair Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney.
New Borussia trainer Lucien Favre favoured the summer signings as his first-choice central midfield pairing with Mahmoud Dahoud often the third in line. Indeed in last season’s Hinrunde, Weigl spent eight whole games sat on the bench and wasn’t even in the squad on four occasions. He made just four starts and one of those was as a makeshift centre back.
The Rückrunde brought more starts, but not in his preferred midfield role. Injuries forced Favre to deploy his versatility into the back four (where he played really well) but his route back into the central midfield role looked to be blocked.
Weigl it seemed was surplus to requirements and a move away would be the best for him to reinstate himself as a dynamic central defensive midfield anchor. He even went public stating that he “functioned very well under Thomas Tuchel”- a ‘come and get me’ shout if ever there was one.
Premier League side Arsenal were reported to be very interested, but were put off by Dortmund’s €30 million price tag.
An exit from Dortmund? Not so fast!
Reports in Bild claim that Lucien Favre had talks with Weigl at Dortmund’s pre-season Bad Ragaz training camp and assured him that he was in his plans and he did see his future back in his preferred midfield role.
Favre was as good as his word and when Dortmund lined-up against champions Bayern in the Super Cup, Weigl was there alongside Alex Witsel in BVB’s 4-2-3-1 formation. Weigl had an excellent game and was singled out for praise by manager Michael Zorc.
In the DFB Pokal 1st round clash with KFC Uerdingen, Weigl was once again alongside Witsel and excelling once again. Two competitive games, two starts, all is well.
Thomas Delaney might have something to say about that. The Dane showed last season that he is excellent as a physical presence against teams that want to compete with BVB and battle them in midfield, but he was less adept against deeper lying teams. He doesn’t possess the range of creative passes to unlock teams and that is where Weigl has the advantage.
Weigl has his nose in front right now, he just needs to show his quality and give Lucien Favre no reason to drop him.
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