Nelson Weiper: Is the Mainz youngster the leader of a new German generation? – scout report
A homegrown player from 1. FSV Mainz 05 was able to get a taste of the Bundesliga for the first time this weekend: centre-forward Nelson Weiper came on as a substitute in the 86th minute against SC Freiburg. Despite the 2-1 away defeat, it remains a historic day in the 17-year-old’s young career and one that coach Bo Svensson may well be counting on more often in the future.
Nelson Weiper played his first game on the eighth matchday of the 2022/23 season (1st October 2022), for 1. FSV Mainz 05. The team lost to SC Freiburg 1-2. He was substituted in and played as a midfielder for a total of four minutes in this game. In terms of total touches, the 192 cm-tall forward had one individual ball possession. Furthermore, he had two tackle challenges in this match. Weiper covered a distance of 1 km during his total playing time in this game. In doing so, the player, with shirt number 44, had a total of five sprints.
This tactical analysis provides an in-depth scout report of 1. FSV Mainz 05’s Nelson Weiper, and examines the 17-year-old’s playing style and characteristics. In addition to understanding how and where Weiper plays, this analysis will also identify the style of tactics where he is most likely to thrive. Is he the next player to make his way into professional football under Bo Svensson?
Nelson Weiper is a product of 1. FSV Mainz 05 youth academy. He has been in phenomenal form last season. He scored 19 goals in 17 games for Mainz youth teams and 10 goals in just 11 games for Germany U-17. He is considered to be one of the leaders of an extremely interesting generation of German players born in 2005 which includes, among others, Arijon Ibrahimovic, Sidney Raebiger, Tom Bischof, Paul Wanner, Dženan Pejčinović, Laurin Ulrich, and Noel Aseko Nkili. Nelson’s brother Henrik is also a footballer – he plays for Kickers Offenbach and represents Albania at the U-19 level.
Weiper is a prime example of a striker that interprets his role as a target man. The target man is a physically strong player, capable of holding on to the ball when under pressure and able to lay off passes to teammates in better positions. The target man is excellent at offensive headers, and is a good player to use in combination with classic wingers when playing long balls to play out of pressure, and when applying a direct or even one-route passing style. One example of a target man might be Sebastien Haller from Borussia Dortmund.
His heatmap shows that he is focusing on the central areas of the pitch. Here, he can create chances for himself or his teammates. He tends to drop deeper in build-up play to receive long balls. Afterwards, he can pass to his teammates on the wings to contribute to Mainz’s game.
Weiper is a tall player. Given his height of 192 cm, he has a very good body mass ratio, physical strength, power, stamina, and natural fitness. Additionally, he feels comfortable in contact situations. For a player of his size, he provides excellent pace, footwork and coordination.
Weiper possesses significant upper-body strength and knows how to use this in the game. Weiper also knows how to use his body to shield the ball from defenders thanks to his technique, strength and ball control. This is important in order to process passes from midfield. He even exudes an enormous presence in the box (6.53 touches in the box per 90).
Because of his size, he has an advantage over most opponents, especially when it comes to aerial duels. For a striker, he completes an outstanding 5.6 header-duels per game and wins around 50% of them.
But it’s not just his physical abilities that make him shine. His positional play is also extremely intelligent. In the switching game, he usually moves exactly in the middle between the opponent’s centre-backs and positions his body parallel to the touchline to scan passes and open space. As you can see in his passing map down below, Weiper does not only play passes in advanced areas on the pitch, he also likes to build up the game in deeper areas.
As a tactically and technically smart player, Weiper generates many flick-ons and passes into the channels for his teammates to utilise. In the following situation against Portugal, Weiper starts his movement from the centre. He moves out wide in order to receive a long pass from the back. With two touches, he receives the ball and plays a progressive smart pass to his teammate. Afterwards, Weiper starts his run back into a central area in order to support his teammate in a 2-vs.-3 situation in attack.
But, Weiper does also provide a great ability to hold up play with his back to the goal when receiving a long ball from the back. In the build-up game, he often moves deep into midfield and draws defenders with him, in order to create and exploit spaces for his teammates. In those situations, he shows a good ability to connect with the midfield.
In the following image, Weiper drops deep in between the defensive lines. Here, he receives a long pass from the back. With only one touch with his chest, he controls the ball and lay it off to Tom Bischof who is well-known for his creativity. In this way, Germany is able to start their attack with three players already starting their runs in behind the defensive line.
In advanced areas on the pitch, the target man likes to play off the shoulder of the opposition defenders. This shows his great sense of positioning while receiving through balls. A good example of this is the image below. In the match against Spain, Germany drives the ball forward. Weiper recognizes the space in between the centre-backs to position himself there. With a well-timed run behind the defensive line, he offers a passing option for Germany’s midfielders.
As you can see in his ball progression map down below, Weiper is also capable of dribbling with the ball and wins lots of dribbles. If he manages to even improve his technical abilities in order to keep up with the pace in professional men’s football, he is on a very good path.
In terms of scoring goals, you can describe Weiper as a clinical finisher, capable on both feet. The German is able to sniff out a goal in any situation since he is always alert to capitalise on defensive mistakes. Thanks to his height of 192 cm, he is always an aerial threat in the opposition box. This also means that he is an indirect set-piece threat after corners or freekicks.
Indeed, one of his greatest strengths is his explosiveness and goal hunger, which is very reminiscent of Erling Haaland from Manchester City and enables him to overrun the opposing defence, creating danger. In addition, he always has a tremendous pull towards the goal with his actions (4.48 shots per 90).
His stats from the current U19 Bundesliga season and from last season displays his outstanding conversion rate. Out of 23 shots, Weiper scored 12 goals. On the one hand, this means a conversion rate of 52,2%. On the other hand, this also means a massive overperformance of his xGoals (6.33 xG) by 5.67. His favourite corner to place the ball into seems to be on the right-hand side.
Only his first touch and cleverness can be expanded. In addition, he will not have any physical advantages in the senior area and therefore also has to develop further. All in all, he brings along very exciting attributes that can help him to achieve higher things.
You can summarize his profile as a powerful and determined forward with killer-instincts, exciting technique on the ball, and cleverness in his off-the-ball movements. The player from Mainz embodies both a massive target player thanks to his height, physique and distribution, as well as a very explosive snapper looking at his acceleration, pace and goal conversion. This is indeed a very exciting combination that is missing in Germany’s current men’s national team.