Florian Wirtz is poised to make his return to full team training at Bayer Leverkusen after several months on the sidelines recovering from a cruciate ligament tear.
Wirtz became the youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances in December 2021, but the 19-year-old’s season was brought to a premature conclusion on 13 March 2022 against former club Cologne due to an ACL tear in his left knee that required surgery.
He has spent the past few months in rehabilitation but was deemed fit enough to accompany the squad on their recent USA trip. While the four-time Germany international did not participate in Leverkusen’s 3-0 friendly win over newly formed MLS club St. Louis City, sporting director Simon Rolfers told German daily Bild that he did take part in the last 10 minutes of a match in the side’s final training session while stateside.
As such, Rolfes expects Wirtz to be involved when Xabi Alonso leads Leverkusen’s first training session on 1 December, although the youngster “will return two or three days beforehand” to be up to speed as Die Werkself gear up for the second half of the season, starting with their first fixture away at Borussia Mönchengladbach on 22 January 2023.
“Flo’s been given a few exercises to do for his knee,” Rolfes continued. “His workload will still be managed but he can take part in full team training in December without any restrictions.”
That will be music to the ears of Leverkusen fans, as Wirtz was in fine form prior to his injury, contributing to his team’s eventual third-placed finish with seven goals and 10 assists across 24 Bundesliga appearances in 2021/22, earning first four senior international caps for Germany between September and October 2021.
The 2022/23 campaign is Wirtz’s third full campaign of Bundesliga football, the teenager having debuted at just 17 in May 2020. He has 13 goals and 16 assists to show for his first 60 top-flight outings, and is widely regarded as one of the best young players Germany has ever produced.
Wirtz – who was a surprise omission from the Golden Boy shortlist after finishing among the final four in last year’s vote – recently signed a contract extension with Leverkusen through to summer 2027.