VERKUSEN’S LENO. 10 FACTORY
In Recent years the Bundesliga has become the most favourable destination for young talent. But it has also become a generator of exceptional talent over the last 10 years.
Each year there is a youngster that is tearing up the league with ease at a tender age. The youthful talent in the Bundesliga currently is a frightening prospect.
Players like Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna,Jamal Musiala and many more have emerged through the years to make sure that the Bundesliga always has some elite young footballer that deserves attention.
The Dortmund academy has always garnered much deserved attention, but the intriguing capacity of Bayer Leverkusen to produce world class versatile No.10s has almost gone unnoticed.
In the last 5 years itself Bayer Leverkusen has produced 3 exceptional No.10s that are well rounded and versatile. They are capable of slotting into various positions in midfield and attack. These players while playing at the Bay Arena have arguably achieved peak performance.
The 3 players that need to be mentioned off of the Leverkusen No.10 conveyor belt are Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz and Florian Wirtz. Havertz and Brandt have moved on to Chelsea and Dortmund respectively , but their newest talent Florian Wirtz already looks like a world beater despite just being 18.
Let’s look at these unique talents and their promising beginnings at Leverkusen that showcases that they produce the best modern number 10s, especially in the Bundesliga.
Some might argue that Julian Brandt was actually never part of Bayer Leverkusen’s youth system, but his breakthrough came for Die Werkself at 17 after he signed for them from the Wolfsburg academy.
In 2013/14 he was used sparingly but showcased his exceptional creativity and versatility at a tender age. In his first season he was deployed as a traditional attacking midfielder or No. 10 and on the right wing. What is intriguing about Brandt’s case is that he seemed to add a new position to his repertoire each season he played for Leverkusen.
Julian Brandt played for Bayer Leverkusen for 6 years. In which time he had established himself as one of the best creators in the league capable of playing on either wing, as a central midfielder, an attacking midfielder and even as a second striker.
He left for Dortmund as a 22 year old after his best season till date as a professional with 7 goals and 14 assists in 33 appearances.In the above mentioned season he played on both wings and as a central midfielder or center attacking midfielder a testament to his versatility and creativity.
He left the Bay Arena after becoming a fan favourite, having made 165 appearances in which he scored 34 goals and provided 40 assists. Luckily for Leverkusen they had the perfect replacement for him waiting in their ranks who he even spent 3 years with Brandt.
Unlike Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz was a product of the Leverkusen youth system. 3 years Brandt’s junior Havertz broke through at 17 too.
He made his debut for the senior side in 2016/17. In 24 appearances he scored 4 goals and 6 assists. Havertz’s unique creativity and versatility was already apparent at 17. In his first season alone he played on both wings, as an attacking midfielder, a central midfielder and even a center forward.
He in fact went on to form a devastating partnership with Brandt in the 3 years they played together. Which resulted Havertz exploding into life in Brandt’s final season, as he scored 17 goals and 4 assists in 34 appearances in the league. After Brandt left it became clear that Havertz was ready to fill that void and so he did. Unfortunately for Leverkusen he also did not stick around for two long.
2019/20 was Havertz’s final season with Die Werkself in which he scored 12 goals and set up a further 6 goals in 30 appearances in the Bundesliga. He left for Chelsea for a record German transfer after scoring 36 goals and providing 25 assists in 118 Buli appearances. His creativity and versatility is truly exceptional. He turned out to be a very well rounded attacker unlike Brandt who has never been a major goal threat but Havertz’s ability to lead the line truly makes him an amazing talent.
Florian Wirtz never really got to share the pitch a lot with Havertz but was earmarked as his replacement once Kai left. Wirtz, much like Havertz and Brandt before him, broke into the senior team at 17. However he only appeared 7 times on the pitch in his breakthrough campaign in 2019/20 and scored a goal.
Although he was mainly used as a right winger in his breakthrough campaign his creativity was clear to see as he could weave past defenders with ease despite having a smaller build than Havertz and Brandt before him. He looked silky with the ball on his feet and was hailed as the next world class No.10 from Leverkusen’s academy.
Last season Wirtz made 29 appearances in the league showing the classic versatility that Leverkusen No.10s seem to possess. His playing time was split as a winger, an attacking midfielder and a center forward. He managed to score 5 and set up a further 6 goals.
This season however Florian Wirtz has truly burst into life after looking extremely promising last season.
He has played on the left wing and as an attacking midfielder. He has completely looked unplayable this season. He has 4 goals and 6 assists in only 8 appearances in the Bundesliga at just 18!
We hope Florian Wirtz sticks around at Leverkusen for longer than his predecessors. Although Brandt and Havertz did win trophies after leaving the Bay Arena their individual performances have never hit the same heights of their Leverkusen days.
We also wonder if Bayer Leverkusen are nurturing another German No.10 in their youth ranks right now ready to replace Wirtz if he leaves.No doubt he is supremely versatile and will become a future world beater.