'Wirtz hasn't reached his limits yet' - Leverkusen's NXGN star tipped for 'special career'

Florian Wirtz Bayer Leverkusen 2021-22Getty Images

Despite an incredible Bundesliga season to date, Bayer Leverkusen wonderkid Florian Wirtz has yet to reach his full potential, according to the club's sporting director Simon Rolfes.

Wirtz has scored seven goals and laid on 10 assists in the German top flight in 2021-22, while adding a further seven direct goal contributions in the Europa League.

His fine form saw him named as the runner-up in NXGN 2022, finishing behind only Jude Bellingham in the list of the top 50 teenage footballers in the world.

Rolfes is backing the playmaker to enjoy a "special career", though only as long as he continues to work hard and keep his feet on the ground.

What was said?

Speaking exclusively to GOAL and SPOX, Rolfes said: "For me, he is without a doubt one of the best in Europe; one of the best in the world.

"Florian has great potential, as we have seen often enough, which will enable him to have a special career."

He added: "Florian is only 18, he has not yet reached his limits... He can and must improve every year. No player in the world has completed his development at such an age."

What makes Wirtz so good?

Already a full Germany international, Wirtz has been singled out for potential stardom since he was working his way through the Koln academy.

Florian Wirtz NXGN 2022 Award GFX

Leverkusen swooped to sign him in January 2020, and he has gone from strength to strength at the BayArena.

"I have been following Florian since he was 13 years old," explained Rolfes. "What is extremely striking about him is that he has always given everything at every age, whether it was raining cats and dogs or the sun was blazing.

"No matter how good his team-mates were, Florian never gave up, he always wanted to win.

"In our first conversation here in Leverkusen, I told him that he had to keep exactly this gift. It's a great quality to always be able to get everything out of yourself.

"He's a guy who always wants that, it's part of his game, and that will continue to drive Florian's development."

And what about any weaknesses?

"Off the top of my head, I can only think of one header he scored for us. And he hasn't scored too many penalties yet either," said Rolfes, with a grin.

"But, in general, you can have problems looking for real weaknesses in Florian.

"That doesn't mean that he has 100 per cent mastery of everything without exception. But you will probably agree that his overall footballing performance leaves little room for complaint.

"Florian, however, is almost never completely satisfied with himself. He always wants more – and that's a good thing."

What next for Wirtz?

Wirtz is currently in the early stages of recovery after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in early March, though there remains hope that he could return ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Rumours regarding his future continue to swirl, meanwhile, with Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Liverpool among the clubs to have reportedly shown an interest in signing him.

NXGN 2022 Florian Wirtz

Rolfes, though, is not concerned about newspaper talk when it comes to his star attacking midfielder.

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"Florian is actually still an A-youth (Under-19s) player, you mustn't forget that," he said. "We have a close relationship with his family and we all agree that Florian will be in good hands with us for a few more years.

"Of course, we can always stress that he has a contract until 2026, and that this contract does not include a release clause.

"People still speculate, that's what they're doing right now. But everyone here knows what they have in each other. That's why we are very relaxed in this respect."