How Wout Weghorst showed promising signs on Man Utd debut
Wout Weghorst made his Manchester United debut as a starter in the club’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday night and gave a strong opening account of himself.
Having missed out on international teammate Cody Gakpo, Weghorst was the surprise choice for United in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo’s messy departure in November.
The towering Dutchman spent the first half of the season in Turkey with Besiktas but is in back in England on loan from Burnley, for whom he scored only twice in 20 appearances following a £20m transfer from Wolfsburg 12 months ago.
But the circumstances Weghorst finds himself in at United are vastly different. For all that the Red Devils are far from the finished product, they have rapidly improved under Erik ten Hag, have a real identity for the first time in years and are not far away from mounting serious challenges.
Weghorst, who chose the number 27 following his arrival because 2+7=9, has already said that he thinks he will be a good fit for Ten Hag’s system because of he likes to press from the front and showed the kind of impact he can have during 69 minutes on the pitch at Selhurst Park.
With Anthony Martial out, this looked a player keen to impress and seemingly with a point to prove in English football. He was alert and sharp in and around the box, showed desire to sniff out chances and impacted the game with intelligent movement as much as he did actually with the ball.
Weghorst didn’t touch the ball in the move that saw United break the deadlock through Bruno Fernandes, yet the goal likely wouldn’t have been possible without him.
As the ball was played wide and into the path of the advancing Christian Eriksen, Weghorst made a run in the penalty area that dragged multiple Crystal Palace defenders out of position as he followed him, leaving the space behind him to open up beautifully for Fernandes. From there, the Portuguese could hardly miss with no one around him and the goal gaping ahead.
Aside from an obvious aerial threat given his height, if that is the kind of impact Weghorst will keep having, he might not even need to rack up the goals to be an asset to the club.
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