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Erik ten Hag says Wout Weghorst is ‘intelligent’ despite ‘failing’ to score

Wout Weghorst finally scored at Old Trafford in Manchester United’s 4-1 win over Real Betis on Thursday, but the 30-year-old could have had a hat-trick if he tucked away all his chances in the Europa League clash.

Erik ten Hag was full of praise for the 30-year-old’s ‘intelligence’ in Friday’s pre-match press conference while admitting he often ‘fails’ in front of goal after getting multiple opportunities to score.

He told “I think he has intelligence from positions – he is a very good anticipator. He is often in the right position, then he fails. But he keeps going. So, he showed great personality and character.

“He could have already (scored) early on, but he keeps focused, keeps working and he keeps putting himself in the right positions. And, finally, he got his goal and his reward.”

Weghorst thought he’d scored just minutes into the game after heading home from close range, but the goal was ruled out for offside. In the 17th minute, Weghorst put a low effort wide of the post after being picked out by Luke Shaw.

And after Antony whipped a ball into the box that Weghorst could have bundled in, the Dutch international somehow side-footed over the bar in the 26th minute. Late on, Weghorst finally got his goal, sliding home a rebounded effort from close range.

The 30-year-old has made 15 appearances in all competitions since joining on loan from Burnley, scoring two goals with three assists. Weghorst has only taken eight shots in seven Premier League outings this season, so it’s little wonder he’s struggled.

However, he hasn’t missed a game under Ten Hag. And against Betis, Weghorst turned over the ball four times, created two chances and had one successful dribble, so the Dutchman brings more to the side than scoring goals.

It’s unlikely that United will sign him permanently at the end of the season, but they will be grateful for his efforts.

Weghorst is tactically versatile with high levels of industry and a selfless attitude, which explains why Ten Hag continues to play him in every game.

Stats from Transfermarkt and WhoScored