Wout Weghorst has admitted that when Erik ten Hag wanted to sign him in the winter transfer window, he envisioned his role to be smaller as the manager considered Anthony Martial to be “his striker”.
In an interview quoted by The Mirror, Weghorst said: “All Ten Hag said was that he needed a striker who could fit into his way of playing. He certainly did not paint the picture as it is now. Anthony Martial was his striker and he was doing fine – but he is injury-prone and the manager wanted all positions double-staffed.
“That’s what I came for. But Ten Hag did say clearly ‘It is up to you. You can force things and the best one plays.’ My dream has always been to get the most out of my career. To tap my ceiling. It makes me incredibly proud and happy.”
Wout Weghorst was signed from Burnley and United had to cut short his ongoing loan deal at Besiktas to get the deal done. He was brought in due to Anthony Martial’s injury-prone campaign. As a result, Weghorst has ended up playing more minutes than Martial despite arriving half a season later.
The Dutchman has played 1,345 minutes in 18 games across all competitions, while Martial has managed just 722 minutes in 14 appearances. Interestingly, Cristiano Ronaldo, who left the club in November, has played more minutes for the club than the French striker (1,051 minutes across 16 games).
Weghorst has become the first name on the team-sheet almost by default due to a lack of options for Erik ten Hag to choose from in the striking department. Marcus Rashford has started some games through the middle but even his workload has had to be managed.
Wout Weghorst vs Anthony Martial
Weghorst’s biggest ability so far has been his availability. Unfortunately, despite his willingness to work hard and sacrifice for the team, his finishing ability and attacking game have left a lot to be desired. However, he has quickly become crucial to the way Ten Hag’s side play football.
He routinely drags defenders away from their position with clever movement and his harrying causes problems for the opposition. Goals are the only thing missing from his game but it is a big miss. After a gruelling run of fixtures, even Weghorst has showed signs of being knackered recently.
Wout Weghorst: “At this level, you can no longer start every game fully recovered. So it also requires a lot of mental strength and mental resilience.”
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) March 25, 2023
Anthony Martial, on the other hand, has shown flashes of having the ability to be United’s undisputed No 9 when fit. He has looked right at home in Erik ten Hag’s fluid attacking system. Holding up the ball, linkup play, or finishing ability, Martial has shown it all this season. Unfortunately for the club, he has rarely shown it for an extended period of time. Ideally, the club needs a striker of Martial’s ability and Weghorst’s availability.
The club will reportedly look for a long-term solution to the striking problem in the summer window, with the likes of Victor Osimhen and Harry Kane targeted. Till then, Weghorst has got time to stake his claim for a permanent place in the squad next season. On the other hand, Martial faces a fight to secure his United future once the squad comes back from the international break.
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