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The Missing Piece: Wout Weghorst Meets Erik ten Hag’s Demands, But His Goal-Scoring May Determine His Manchester United Future

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The Missing Piece: Wout Weghorst Meets Erik ten Hag’s Demands, But His Goal-Scoring May Determine His Manchester United Future

Although Wout Weghorst has fulfilled the expectations set by Erik ten Hag, his lack of scoring prowess may ultimately determine his future with Manchester United.

As Wout Weghorst watched Liverpool’s attacking line score with ease at Anfield on Sunday, one can only imagine what was going through his mind. He must have been envious of the fortunate rebound that allowed Mohamed Salah to score his second goal, with the ball landing right in front of him six yards from goal after hitting Roberto Firmino. Liverpool’s good luck continued throughout the match, while Weghorst’s dry spell persisted.

Weghorst has now gone 11 games without scoring, a total of 822 minutes since he last found the back of the net against Nottingham Forest. He has not even managed a shot on target in six of those 11 appearances, including the last two against West Ham and Liverpool.

“I’m a striker and I think every striker knows it; you are living for scoring goals,” Weghorst said in his first interview as a United player back in January. “That’s the thing we have been working all week to get it done in the weekend and that’s definitely something I want to achieve here also. That’s also what I meant with being part of it and contributing. Of course, for me as a striker, at the end, it’s also all about goals, of course.”

Erik ten Hag did not sign Wout Weghorst for Manchester United solely for his goal-scoring ability. When United needed to find a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo in January, they were not looking for a player who simply replicated the Portuguese forward’s goal-scoring prowess. Instead, they wanted someone who was more than just an elite goal-scorer and who would also be willing to contribute to pressing and defensive efforts.

Manchester United saw in Weghorst a player who was not only physically imposing and capable of leading the attack, but also a willing runner with the energy to press high up the pitch. His eight goals in 16 appearances for Besiktas prior to joining United suggested that he had regained his clinical form from his time at Wolfsburg.

“He’s a goalscorer definitely but also a type who will work for the team, who is a really good pressing player in defending, so he can contribute [there] as well,” as Ten Hag would put it upon confirmation of the loan deal.

Wout Weghorst has largely lived up to Erik ten Hag’s expectations since joining Manchester United on loan. He has been one of the team’s most hardworking players, contributing to their 11-game unbeaten run, including the Carabao Cup final, and opening up space for his teammates through his pressing and unselfish runs. However, Weghorst is aware that the final 10% of what is expected of him, namely his goal-scoring, may determine his future at the club.

Weghorst has been the primary option for United as a target man since his arrival, with Anthony Martial’s absence. Although Marcus Rashford is in good form and able to impact games from different positions, he typically starts on the left wing. If United do decide to make a big signing for a striker in the summer, Weghorst or Martial could become surplus to requirements. Ten Hag is expected to want two major signings before the start of the new season, and the club has reportedly shown interest in Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen.

Thus far, Weghorst’s time at United has been satisfactory in terms of his effort and commitment, but the difference between being a good and a great player is scoring goals. His future at the club may hinge on his ability to find the back of the net.

The Missing Piece: Wout Weghorst Meets Erik ten Hag’s Demands, But His Goal-Scoring May Determine His Manchester United Future

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