Wahid Faghir Scouted – Stuttgart’s New Wonderkid

On the last day of the trans­fer win­dow, VfB Stutt­gart fina­li­zed the sig­ning of Danish won­der­kid Wahid Fag­hir from Super­li­ga club Vej­le Bold­klub. Foot­ball Mana­ger gamers have known Fag­hir for years, as he has been one of the best young stri­kers in the popu­lar series for quite some time, but who is the young Dane actual­ly? Danish foot­ball wri­ter Toke Thei­la­de from Vil­fort Park gives the low­down on the new Stutt­gart stri­ker.

The talent factory in the woods

The­se days, Vej­le are by no means a famous club out­side of the Danish bor­ders. Howe­ver, the club from Jut­land has proud tra­di­ti­ons within talent deve­lo­p­ment, and seve­ral of the club gra­dua­tes are among the big­gest play­ers in the histo­ry of Danish foot­ball.

In fact, the only Danish Balon d’Or win­ner, Allan Simon­sen in 1977, play­ed for Vej­le befo­re moving to Borus­sia Mön­chen­glad­bach and later Bar­ce­lo­na. So is Pre­ben Elk­jær Lar­sen who finis­hed third place in the Balon d’Or award in 1984 and second in 1986, and John Sive­bæk who moved to Man­ches­ter United from Vej­le in 1986. In more recent times, for­mer HSV mid­fiel­der Tho­mas Gra­ve­sen, who also went to Real Madrid came from Vej­le.

One can thus safe­ly say that Fag­hir has big shoes to fill, but also that he has recei­ved his foot­bal­ling edu­ca­ti­on in stel­lar con­di­ti­ons. Fur­ther­mo­re, the­re is cer­tain­ly some serious weight behind the words, when the club calls him one of the grea­test talents it has ever deve­lo­ped. Under­stan­d­a­b­ly, Fag­hir is also by far the lar­gest sale, the club has ever made.

The Danish Zlatan

Ever sin­ce Fag­hir bro­ke through at the age of 16, he has fre­quent­ly been com­pared to Swe­dish legend Zla­tan Ibra­hi­mo­vic.

Just like Zla­tan, Faghir’s fami­ly escaped from war. His par­ents fled from the Tali­ban rule in Afgha­ni­stan, and Fag­hir was later born in Den­mark. Howe­ver, the simi­la­ri­ties don’t stop the­re. Fag­hir is incre­di­ble con­fi­dent, phy­si­cal­ly gifted and tech­ni­cal­ly strong, making it dif­fi­cult not to draw the com­pa­ri­son.

He ear­ned his pro­fes­sio­nal debut in July 2020 at the end of the 2019/2020 sea­son. At this time, Vej­le were fight­ing for pro­mo­ti­on to the Super­li­ga, and Fag­hir beca­me a regu­lar on the team almost straight away. In his first sea­son, he mana­ged three goals and two assists in ten games.

In his debut sea­son in the Super­li­ga, he play­ed 26 matches and scored six goals on a Vej­le team that, suc­cessful­ly, fought to eva­de rele­ga­ti­ons. He scored six goals in the cam­paign and often car­ri­ed the team on his back despi­te his young age and lack of expe­ri­ence.

At the same time, Fag­hir has estab­lished hims­elf as a star on the Danish U21 natio­nal team. He was a part of the squad that rea­ched the quar­ter­fi­nals in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­on­ship this sum­mer, and he pro­ved hims­elf one of the best play­ers, despi­te only start­ing one game. When­ever he came on the pitch, Den­mark beca­me incre­asing­ly lethal offen­si­ve­ly. The per­fect exam­p­le was the quar­ter­fi­nal against Ger­ma­ny, which Den­mark lost on pen­al­ties, whe­re Fag­hir was sub­bed on in the 66th minu­te and scored the ope­ning goal three minu­tes later.

Vej­le, being a small club, were always expec­ted to sell Fag­hir this sum­mer. It was just a mat­ter of when the right offer would arri­ve. Seve­ral big clubs were lin­ked with the young stri­ker, but despi­te the spe­cu­la­ti­on, he held his head cool and play­ed well in the start of the sea­son. Befo­re lea­ving, he scored twice and he set up an addi­tio­nal six chan­ces for his team mates.

What does Faghir bring to Stuttgart?

Stan­ding 1.86 meter, the young Dane is a phy­si­cal­ly strong play­er. He is alre­a­dy rea­dy for pro­fes­sio­nal first team foot­ball, and won’t be pushed away by the defen­ders like many of the peers in his age group. Due to his phy­si­que, he is high­ly capa­ble in aeri­al duels, which he is using both in front of the goal, but also to crea­te chan­ces for his team­ma­tes.

When loo­king at him, he doesn’t look like an 18-year-old with less than 100 first team games. He plays intel­li­gent foot­ball with a gre­at over­view over his team­ma­tes, good decis­i­ons and strong move­ments off the ball. This makes him a dan­ge­rous wea­pon in the build up play as well as he can easi­ly seek deep in the pitch and con­tri­bu­te to the build up in a meaningful way. With Vej­le often sit­ting deep, Fag­hir has often been alo­ne up front, and he has show­ed that he is capa­ble of using his body to pro­tect the ball and play well with his back towards the goal.

Last­ly, he is rela­tively fast for a man of his size, while his tech­ni­que is also at a high level. All in all, he’s a com­ple­te for­ward, who can play both as the front stri­ker or behind ano­ther cen­ter for­ward.

 In the pre­vious sea­son, Faghir’s first full sea­son on the first team, he scored six goals and added one assist in 26 games. Alt­hough the num­bers might not sound that impres­si­ve for a stri­ker, he did that for a team who finis­hed just one spot abo­ve rele­ga­ti­on and in his first sea­son in the best league. He even mana­ged to score in some big games, inclu­ding in the away match against the later cham­pi­ons, Brønd­by IF.

Faghir’s six goals came on just 3.7 Expec­ted Goals accor­ding to the offi­ci­al Super­li­ga data, pro­ving how lethal a finis­her he is. Unfort­u­na­te­ly for him, Vej­le had a ter­ri­ble sup­port­ing cast, and the team finis­hed with the lowed xG in the enti­re league with just 35.3 in 32 games.

That Fag­hir is gre­at in front of goal, was also pro­ved by his scoring per­cen­ta­ge on 20. This was the 10th best in the enti­re league of play­ers with at least 30 shots over the sea­son. On top of this, he crea­ted 21 chan­ces for his team.

All in all, Stutt­gart is get­ting one of the most exci­ting young Danish talents in the last many years. Fag­hir has an enti­cing pro­fi­le, and had he play­ed for one of the big­ger clubs in the coun­try, he would most likely have gone for twice the amount VfB paid for him. This could very easi­ly turn out to be one of tho­se trans­fers that we look back onto as a huge ste­al in a few years.

Pic­tu­re: © Claus Fis­ker

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