Werder Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt believes teenager Josh Sargent can be the club’s striking future and take up the mantle from veteran forward Claudio Pizarro following the American’s maiden Bundesliga goal on Matchday 14.
Sargent’s debut in Germany’s top flight was the stuff of dreams, the Missouri native netting against Fortuna Düsseldorf less than two minutes after taking to the field last Friday.
Watch: The story behind Josh Sargent's long-awaited Bundesliga debut
The 18-year-old had been given his chance in the senior team after a run of seven goals in 12 matches for the club’s U23s, and after making such a strong impression on Matchday 14, he can realistically expect more first-team action to come.
Kohfeldt emphasised his belief that Sargent still needs to be eased in gently to the Bundesliga – “We need to be careful with what we expect from him. If he makes five or six appearances by the summer, it’ll have been a good year” – but also made it plain that the youngster is the future of Werder and will surely have a bigger role to play next term as a possible heir to a club legend.
Pizarro re-signed for Bremen back in August on a one-year deal and will surely go down as their one of their greatest ever players. The Peruvian has scored 147 goals in 285 appearances across his five spells at the club, spread over a staggering 20 seasons, and helped Werder lift the DFB Cup in 2009. He is also a six-time Bundesliga champion with Bayern Munich, and holds the record for the most Bundesliga goals scored by a non-German player: 194 and counting.
Watch: Pizarro lavishes praise on team-mate Sargent
Nevertheless, he turned 40 in October and with Sargent, Bremen have succession plans in mind. "It’s a realistic goal [that he takes Pizarro’s role in the squad],” said Kohfeldt. “We want to develop our own top forwards. If, next summer, Josh is the one, then we’ll have done a lot of things right.”
Kohfeldt continued: "Josh doesn’t care whether he plays at the Weserstadion or Platz 11 [the U23 pitch], and he wouldn’t care about playing in front of 80,000 in Dortmund. He can block that out, a quality Pizarro also has. That can make the difference between a good and an outstanding player."
Should Sargent retain his place in the matchday squad, he will have precisely that opportunity to showcase his talent in Germany’s biggest arena, with Bremen travelling to league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 15.