Former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl joined Portuguese side Benfica last January. One year prior, he was on the verge of joining Thomas Tuchel’s Paris Saint-Germain.
When then 19-year-old Julian Weigl arrived at Borussia Dortmund in 2015 from 2. Bundesliga side 1860 Munich, not much was made of the transfer. However, it took no longer than the pre-season for Thomas Tuchel to mould the youngster into a midfield centre-piece next to Ilkay Gündogan.
The midfield metronome was the perfect fit under Jürgen Klopp’s successor. Yet, he was not under either Peter Bosz, Peter Stöger or Lucien Favre, who followed after Tuchel’s unamiable exit.
No perspective on starting stop in midfield
Weigl struggled to gain meaningful minutes in central midfield at BVB ever since a broken ankle injury kept him out for nearly 100 days in 2017. With the arrival of Axel Witsel in the summer of 2018, it was always going to be hard for the Bavarian to reestablish himself. Under Favre, he mostly was utilised as centre-back.
And yet, Dortmund did not allow Weigl to move to PSG in January of 2019 to re-join his former proficient. “I had an offer from Paris in the winter, which I wanted to accept and for which I fought for,” the 24-year-old told Süddeutsche Zeitung, adding: “BVB completely locked the door. I could understand the club. After all, we had big chances to win the German championship and many centre-backs were injured. Nevertheless, you don’t want to accept the situation when you see: Okay, you can still play a couple of games as centre-back in Dortmund but when the others return from injury, you’re back on the bench.”
“The outlook to go to Paris Saint-Germain, to a coach, who knows what he expects from you, and with whom you have a big chance to develop further, is very tempting. But going on strike or cause trouble for it? That was never in question. I had Dortmund too much to thank for. But I also felt on the inside after PSG’s offer that I wanted to do something else. And that feeling never left.”
At Benfica, Weigl has played 73 per cent of possible minutes in Liga NOS. The Lisbon side are currently trailing league leaders FC Porto by one point in the table. The Portuguese topflight is scheduled to resume on June 4.