"It's just common sense to keep me on board!" - Florian Wirtz is now tied to Bayer Leverkusen until June 2026. - © THILO SCHMUELGEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
"It's just common sense to keep me on board!" - Florian Wirtz is now tied to Bayer Leverkusen until June 2026. - © THILO SCHMUELGEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
bundesliga

Florian Wirtz extends Bayer Leverkusen contract until 2026

Florian Wirtz has extended his contract with Bayer Leverkusen through to 30 June 2026, committing his future to the club on the day of his 18th birthday.

Wirtz has been with Leverkusen since January 2020, after a rapid rise through the ranks at hometown club Cologne. He became Die Werkself's youngest-ever Bundesliga debutant in May 2020 – at 17 years and 16 days old – and has gone on to become a first-team regular, notching eight goals and eight assists in 44 competitive outings.

He also made history in just his fourth top-flight assignment, becoming the Bundesliga's then youngest-ever goalscorer at 17 years and 34 days – and against Bayern Munich, to boot! That record stood until December 2020, when Borussia Dortmund's Youssoufo Moukoko netted against Union Berlin at just 16 years and 28 days.

Watch: Wirtz got the better of Manuel Neuer to make Bundesliga history

"It's impressive how courageously and confidently Flo has already asserted himself in professional football," declared Simon Rolfes, Leverkusen's director of sport. "He has what it takes to become a top player in the Bundesliga in the coming years, and also an important element of the German national team."

Wirtz has yet to make his Germany debut, although the highly rated attacking midfielder was called up for the first round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in March, sitting on the bench against Iceland, Romania and North Macedonia.

"It's not just his first call-up for Germany that shows that Florian has made fantastic progress in his 18 months here," added Leverkusen's managing director of sport, Rüdi Voller. "His outstanding talent was there for all to see, and it meant we had high hopes when we signed him as a 16-year-old in early 2020.

"Then again, we didn't expect him to become a key figure in our first team! Given his young age, and the fact that he's still working towards his high school diploma, it's an extraordinary achievement. If he keeps this up, he will become a true leader in the next few years, one of the pillars of our team."

Watch: Florian Wirtz, rewriting Bundesliga history

A native of Pulheim, on the outskirts of Cologne, Wirtz inked a deal through to summer 2023 when he joined Leverkusen, and this new contract could theoretically keep him at the club until the age of 23. Though he has drawn comparisons with former Werkself star Kai Havertz – now of Chelsea – Wirtz looks keen to tread his own path at the BayArena.

"Everything at Bayer Leverkusen has been exactly as I expected, and what I was promised," he said. "I'm playing at a great club, one of the best in Germany, and I want us to aim for the highest possible goals in the coming years. I've already improved my football skills in a great team, and I just want to keep going. I want my performances to contribute to us winning titles here in the near future."

There will be no silverware for Leverkusen in 2020/21 – they were knocked out in the last 32 of this season's UEFA Europa League, and the last 16 of the DFB Cup – but they are still fighting for a place in European competition next year. With three Bundesliga games remaining they are sixth in the table, in a Borussia sandwich – five points behind Dortmund in fifth and four ahead of Mönchengladbach in seventh. Sixth place would mean qualification to the playoffs of the all-new UEFA Conference League.

Wherever Leverkusen end up next term, Rolfes stressed he was happy to see the club continuing to develop the game's future stars, with Wirtz looking to follow in the footsteps of players like Havertz, Julian Brandt and Toni Kroos – who has won the UEFA Champions League four times, not to mention the 2014 World Cup.

"It's a meaningful statement from the club on how we're going to approach things here in the future," Rolfes concluded. "With top-class players who still have room for improvement. Leverkusen is a leading address for player development. Florian is both a promise for the future and a guarantee of sporting success in the present."