Wout Weghorst is set to depart Burnley this summer after their relegation to the English Championship. Sam Matthews Boehmer looks at possible destinations for the striker.

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Over the past couple of years, Wout Weghorst has become something of a cult hero amongst fans of the Dutch National Team. After being effectively frozen out by Ronald Koeman, under Frank De Boer and now Louis van Gaal he has endeared himself to the Oranje faithful with his passion, roaring celebration, strange facial expressions, and genuine footballing ability. His most recent stoppage-time winner against Wales was a case in point.

The same could be said, until recently, of his club career. At Wolfsburg, whom he had signed for after leaving AZ Alkmaar, he successively scored 17, 16, and 20 goals across his three full seasons in the Bundesliga. Then, however, his unwise move to Burnley happened.

Weghorst’s thought process behind this £18 million transfer was questionable. Moving from a team competing in the Champions League to one desperately fighting relegation was always going to be a risky move. Weghorst clearly wished to prove himself in the Premier League before getting a move to a slightly better team, higher up the league. Instead, Burnley were relegated, with a playing style unsuited to Weghorst’s skill set, while the Dutch giant was left with only two goals (and three assists) in 20 appearances.

Despite this, and the fact that caretaker manager Mike Jackson started to inexplicitly play Weghorst from the bench, it is clear that Weghorst will not be playing the Championship next season. In the first place, his record in the Bundesliga indicates he is too good for the second tier of English football, and he clearly also wants to move.

In an interview with Voetbal International, Weghorst made clear that “We have clearly agreed in advance that I will not play in the Championship … the club would like to keep me and will do everything they can to return to the Premier League as soon as possible … for next season it is important that I can perform at a high level, also with a view to the World Cup in Qatar.”

To be able to make the Qatar World Cup, Weghorst, this time around, needs to make a sensible move where he can be guaranteed starts, goals, and, perhaps most importantly, a team that suits his style of play which, despite his height, does not revolve around long balls being played into his head.

He claims that he has received interest from Turkey, Germany, and England. This article will therefore examine a club from each country in turn, analysing the team and the league’s suitability to Weghorst.

Turkey: Besiktas

This is the one concrete rumour that has emerged surrounding Weghorst so far and is, in my eyes, perhaps the worst option that the striker could take.

The Turkish League has, over the last decade, been something of a graveyard for ageing Dutch footballers. From Robin van Persie to Dirk Kuyt to Wesley Sneijder and Elijero Elia, this is a place where footballers, with their abilities, markedly declining, play out their last few years, with the passion of the fans compensating for the league’s lack of footballing ability.

But Weghorst is not at the end of his career. Though he may be 29, his best seasons have come in the last couple of years at Wolfsburg, and his style of play, which relies mainly on his touch and height, rather than his physical attributes, will not really change with age.

The Turkish League is also generally more suited to a more physical, hard-running style. Yes, Weghorst is 6 foot 6, but his height masks his more technical ability, which is arguably his best attribute. As at Burnley, where their scouts seemed to presume that as he was big he was simply a ‘target man’, long balls would simply be lobbed to his head, which would deny him the chance to play to his true strengths.

Very simply as well, Turkey, on the European footballing scene, is out of the way. Turkish teams rarely make it far in Europe competition (which Besiktas even failed to make this season), and Weghorst could quickly become lost in the Super Lig’s maelstrom, out of Louis van Gaal’s gaze.

If he wants to make it to the World Cup, Turkey, and, more specifically, Besiktas, is not the answer.

England: West Ham, Newcastle, or Tottenham Hotspur

The options for Weghorst in the Premier League are extensive, and all would have been far better choices for Weghorst than Burnley if he had waited a little longer.

Though the Premier League is very fast and challenging, which does not necessarily suit Weghorst’s lack of pace, at the right club the league could be the perfect place to showcase his technical abilities.

West Ham have been looking for a striker for a long time, relying on Michail Antonio as effectively their sole option up front. Weghorst would provide something different, not only increasing strength in depth, which West Ham have so struggled to manage in the Europa League this season, but also supplying a different type of option up front.

By bringing the likes of Jarrod Bowen into play, Weghorst would allow for a move away from the Hammers’ counter-attacking style, while his strength in the air would of course be an added bonus. Whether he could keep fan favourite Antonio out of the side on a regular basis though, is another question.

Newcastle are also a club on the lookout for a striker this summer. They signed Chris Wood in January when they could have got a far better, cheaper, and younger striker in Weghorst, but now could finally be the time for the Dutchman to move to the club he has been linked with for so long. He is a far more technical player than the brute Wood, aiding the club’s money-bags transition to a more fluid style of play under Eddie Howe.

Tottenham, meanwhile, would be another risky option for Weghorst, as he would undoubtedly play second-fiddle to Harry Kane, and signed to be a back-up. This position was the death of Vincent Janssen, and could be for Weghorst too, if Conte shows the same lack of intention to rotate his team, as was the case with Steven Bergwijn. But, as always, Spurs need a striker to provide depth, and Weghorst could be that man.

The Premier League options are therefore plentiful, but the doubt always remains whether Weghorst would get the game-time needed to make Louis’ squad.

Bundesliga: Wolfsburg

This may be seen as a step back for Weghorst, an admission that his big Premier League transfer didn’t work, but, if he wants to make the World Cup squad, he should move back to the club where it all worked out so well.

The Bundesliga suited Weghorst perfectly, slightly slower, but also allowing players like Weghorst to prove their ability with the ball at their feet.

He scored goal after goal in Wolfsburg’s green and was loved by the fans. Though they finished 12th this season, they can only improve, especially with Weghorst back amongst their ranks.

Another Bundesliga move would be interesting, perhaps to a Freiburg or Leverkusen, fighting in Europe, but would not be as much of a guaranteed success as Wolfsburg.

If he wants to make a name for himself in the Oranje shirt in Qatar, he may, for now, have to subsume his club ambitions and return, once again, to his Wolfsburg comfort zone.




Sam Matthews Boehmer (4 Posts)