When Ruud van Nistelrooy was asked during the Euros what Wout Weghorst brings to the Netherlands team, his answer makes it easy to understand why Burnley have now turned to him too.
‘It’s a strength that we have that we have a 6ft 6in striker,’ the former Manchester United striker and Netherlands No.2 told Sportsmail.
‘Sometimes we need a striker like that for the hold-up play, for games with a lot of crosses or someone players can use to play around him.’
Wout Weghorst appears a tailor-made replacement for Chris Wood to lead Burnley’s attack
Following Chris Wood’s departure to Newcastle, Weghorst appears a tailor-made replacement for the Clarets, arriving for £12m from Wolfsburg and primed to be the new focal point of Sean Dyche’s attack.
And there is a view that Burnley may prove to be stronger following January than they were going into it following the change that has resulted in a towering-targetman with a keen eye for goal inheriting the No.9 shirt left vacant by Woods.
In 242 games in Holland and Germany’s top divisions since 2014 Weghorst scored an impressive 110 goals.
Can he replicate anything like that form in England to help keep bottom-of-the-table Burnley in the Premier League?
Time will tell. But a couple of things Weghorst’s career to date has shown it is that won’t be for a want of trying and the 29 year-old proving his worth is something he does well.
Weghorst’s first professional club was FC Emmen, who played in Holland’s second tier
‘He was not so talented at the beginning but after training he worked for himself at the gym, on the pitch, getting stronger, getting better,’ explained Harm Hensens, team manager of Weghorst’s first professional club FC Emmen who played in Holland’s second tier.
‘He would do a lot of free-kicks, go with another player after training and work on his passing. Everything to get better technique. It was his own idea.
‘All those young guys, normally they might go directly home but he wanted to work himself. It was good to see.’
One incident in particular convinced Hensens that Weghorst had what it takes.
He said: ‘In one game we got a penalty and he came into the team 15 minutes before end of the game and somebody else was supposed to take the penalty, senior player, but Wout takes the ball off him and goes to shoot the penalty. Yes he scored.
‘That tells me that he wants to show us that he is the best and nobody has to be worried about that he is not going to score.’
Hensens could see the results of Weghorst’s work a few years later when he was at AZ Alkmaar who the frontman joined in 2016 from Heracles, his first Eredivisie club.
‘As we say in Holland he has a nose for the goal because he is always standing in the right place but when I saw him at AZ, his technique and everything was better,’ he said. ‘Then you could see he could become a big player.
In 242 games in Holland and Germany’s top divisions since 2014, he has scored 110 goals
‘At every club higher he could manage to deal with it. People always say his work ethic is incredible. He is so willing to win every single game, even in training so he is very determined.
‘People say he is not that talented and his technique is not that good but it is a pretty special talent if you manage to get higher step by step and be this striker at this level.’
Then AZ coach Arne Slot has admitted at first he did not see an international level striker in Weghorst yet that is exactly what he eventually became.
‘He always adapted to the level and got better every year,’ Slot told Dutch publication Voetbal International.
‘Wout now proves where dedication and doing your best every day can lead to. Many players think they can do a little less if the trainer isn’t looking. Wout has never had that. He is an exception. He didn’t settle for half work.’
The goals continued to flow at Wolfsburg though between July 2018 and March 2021 Weghorst played just 27 minutes for his country.
Burnley, and Sean Dyche, will be hoping that Weghosrt can fire them to safety in the top flight
For a long time following his appointment in September 2020 De Boer was also reluctant to pick Weghorst, instead keeping faith with players he inherited such as Luuk de Jong up front.
Eventually Weghorst’s form – 25 goals in 41 games for Wolfsburg last season – left De Boer with no choice and he started the Euros leading the line for the Netherlands.
In the last couple of years Weghorst has worked with a mental performance coach Remco Visscher who has helped train the striker’s brain and body to help him do things he once doubted he could such as improve his heading and to be calmer on the pitch.
The pair previously discussed Wout’s career goals – to go to the Euros with Holland and then secure a move to the Premier League – and Visscher has helped him achieve them.
Now, Burnley hope, it will be goals of a different kind for Weghorst following his move to Turf Moor.