After a hugely disappointing campaign last season using Belgian strikers, VfL Wolfsburg have gone Dutch this summer by securing much sought-after striker Wout Weghorst from AZ Alkmaar. Die Wölfe beat of competition from the likes of West Ham, Leeds United and Sevilla to sign the giant forward.
Wolfsburg once again had to face the ignominy of the relegation play-off after yet another season of highly mediocre football at the Volkswagen Arena. Three different trainers were unable to prise the quality out of a group of individuals, who really should have performed to a higher level.
They only scored 36 goals (bottom side Köln only scored one less) with Daniel Didavi top scorer with nine. Divock Origi on-loan from Liverpool was largely a disappointment scoring six, but flattering to deceive while fellow Belgian arrival Landry Dimata failed to score in his 21 appearances.
So now the club have switched their attention across the Belgian border and into the Netherlands where they have paid €11 million to secure the services of 25-year-old Weghorst.
The 6ft 6 inch giant striker scored 18 goals for AZ Alkmaar last season as the ‘Cheeseheads’ finished third behind Ajax and PSV and he had begun to attract scouts from across Europe. A much improved player since his early days at Heracles, where he looked great at times, but gangly and wasteful at others, Weghorst will now be trusted to continue his goalscoring form in the Bundesliga.
His breakout season came in 2014-15 when he provided 8 goals and 7 assists for Heracles. With Vincent Janssen leaving Alkmaar for Tottenham, Weghorst was signed by AZ for just €1.5 million as his replacement. He began last season in lightning fashion scoring six goals in the opening five Eredivisie fixtures. He also ended the season with a hot streak of six goals in his last five games to help propel AZ into third place.
He was rewarded for his development with his first international cap in the friendly against England in March and has since been called up by Oranje coach Ronald Koeman for the friendlies against both Slovakia and Italy.
“Wout Weghorst has put in consistently good performances in the past couple of seasons with Alkmaar and has come on leaps and bounds,” said Wolfsburg Director of Sport Jörg Schmadtke. “With his style of play and mentality, he should adapt well to the Bundesliga.”
Fans of Wolfsburg will be hoping he does adapt well (and quickly) to the Bundesliga much in the way that former Dutch striker Bas Dost did. Dost scored 36 goals in 85 appearances spread across four seasons before he ultimately moved to Sporting Lisbon. There are similarities between the two with both strikers starting out their careers at FC Emmen before moving to Heracles. Dost signed from Heerenveen, whereas Weghorst arrives from Alkmaar.
“The time I spent in Alkmaar was fantastic,” Weghorst told the club website. “But I wanted to take the next step in my career. I’m looking forward to the new challenge and firmly believe that the move to the Bundesliga is right for my development. I’m looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and getting to know my new surroundings.”
With the signing of Daniel Ginczek from VfB Stuttgart, Wolfsburg will have a new-look forward line next season as Bruno Labbadia seeks to end a torrid few years for the club.
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