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Why You Should Be Afraid Of Bayer Leverkusen For The Upcoming Season

A change in transfer strategy means that Die Werkself are looking very strong going into next season.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v West Ham United - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Marco Steinbrenner/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Hello everyone! I hope you have all been enjoying (or are still enjoying) your summer! In Denmark, the summer’s almost over, but before I head back into the hamster wheel for good, I wanted to bring you an article on one very exciting Bundesliga team — namely Bayer Leverkusen. Our Nordrhein-Westfalen neighbors aren’t necessarily considered an elite team in Europe, which means their transfer business might have gone a bit under the radar. And now that we have officially entered the last month of this summer transfer window, I can safely say, that Die Werkself have had probably the most impressive transfer window in the entire league. In this article, I will try and explain why I think that is, and why we should maybe begin to consider a nickname that’s not Neverkusen.

Retaining Xabi Alonso

Real Madrid, PSG and Tottenham. That’s just a few of the names that have been on the rumor mill for the newly-hatched coach. While Bayer Leverkusen didn’t finish their season that well last season, I think everyone noticed the arrival of the Spaniard. After a rough start, Alonso managed to bring Leverkusen onto a 7-game winning run in the Bundesliga, lifting the team far away from the relegation zone, where they previously had been found when Gerado Seoane (Now Gladbach’s new coach) was sacked after a string of horror performances in the Bundesliga and Champions League.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v West Ham United - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Marco Steinbrenner/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Xabi Alonso managed to land Leverkusen in 6th place last season — obviously not ideal, but very impressive when taking the horrible situation he inherited into account. As a footballer, Alonso was always known for his big footballing IQ, and he has clearly managed to implement a system and a mentality that works for Die Werkself. From what he has shown so far, Alonso will surely go on to do great things as a coach, and I’m sure a handfuld of clubs around Europe have seriously considered calling him in order to acquire his services. Nonetheless, Alonso clearly likes the Bundesliga, and with a full preseason done with him in charge, who knows how scary Leverkusen will be next season — especially if he gets the right transfers. Speaking of that...

The Best Transfer Window In The League

Bayer Leverkusen and Dortmund have actually done something quite similar in this transfer window. Both of the teams are known for their production of young, world-class talents, but this time around, both Die Werkself and Die Schwarzgelben have adjusted their focus a bit and brought in a handful of more established players.

Notable Bayer Leverkusen Arrivals so far:

Alejandro Grimaldo (Free Transfer from SC Benfica)

Victor Boniface (20,5 mil euros from Royale Union Saint-Gilloise)

Granit Xhaka (15 mil euros from Arsenal)

Jonas Hofmann (10 mil euros from Mönchengladbach)

Arthur (7 mil euros from América MG)

Net spend: 52,5 million euros

Notable Bayer Leverkusen Departures so far:

Moussa Diaby (55 mil euros to Aston Villa)

Mitchel Bakker (10 mil euros to Atalanta)

Kerem Demirbay (3.7 mil euros to Galatasaray)

Paulinho (Free transfer to Atlético MG)

Daley Sinkgraven (Free transfer to UD Las Palmas)

Net income: 65 million euros

So, Bayer Leverkusen have essentially sold/swapped Moussa Diaby for 5 players. The Spanish left back, Grimaldo was originally a product of Barcelona’s famous La Masia, but never really broke through on senior level. He then moved to Benfica, where he has been a stable in the starting XI for 7 (!) seasons. He has been operating on the highest level for a number of years now, and after a very succesful spell in Benfica, I was surprised to see him end up at Bayer Leverkusen, when he’s in his prime (27 years old). I’m quite certain this is the work of Xabi Alonso. His reputation in Spain must have had some leverage in Grimaldo’s decision to choose Leverkusen — I guess Xabi’s good for more than just victories. Getting a player of this caliber for free is rare, and Grimaldo could probably have chosen clubs from a higher shelf. Come to think about it, this might be the best Bundesliga transfer in this window overall.

Jonas Hofmann was Gladbach’s best player last season, and although he’s not young anymore (31), he is still one of the league’s most consistent players when it comes to producing goals and assists. Across the last three seasons, Hoffi has produced around one G/A per. 120 minutes — very impressive when taking Gladbach’s struggles into account. He knows the ins and outs of the Bundesliga, and I would say he’s a bargain for only 10 million euros, as he’s almost certain to produce you around 15 G/A and he’s flexible when it comes to the number of positions he can play.

The last very notable addition is Granit Xhaka. Mikael Arteta basically turned Xhaka into a world-class box-to-box midfielder. While I do think 15 million euros is quite a sum, there’s no doubt that Xhaka will be able to produce instant value and can slot right into Alonso’s starting XI. A midfield of Andrich, Wirtz and Xhaka seems very scary to me.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v West Ham United - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Marco Steinbrenner/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

On the departure side, Diaby is of course a loss for Leverkusen. The talented winger is off to Birmingham to play for Aston Villa, but honestly, there’s no indication that Jonas Hofmann won’t be able to produce the same numbers as Diaby has. While Diaby has shown glimpses of brilliance, he has also been somewhat inconsistent at times, and I think 55 million euros is a fine sum for him. I don’t think he’ll produce 15+ G/A in the Premier League, which is why I think Aston Villa might have fooled themselves here, but we’ll see!

I only see the rest of the departures as Leverkusen getting rid of aging players or deadweight. Sinkgraven and Paulinho were never certain starters, and while Demirbay has been a phenomenal player for Leverkusen, he’s not young anymore, and replacing him with Xhaka seems like a very smart move. Mitchell Bakker never quite lived up to his potential, and honestly, 10 million euros is a fine fee. Leverkusen have successfully gotten rid of a number of players — something we could learn a thing or two about.


So in conclusion — Leverkusen’s squad will be much more mature going into next season. Their squad is very well rounded with Hlozek and Schick as 9’s and an absolute beast of a midfield and a fine addition in Grimaldo to their already promising defense. They have a brilliant coach on the rise, and they have somehow kept all of their young star players outside of Diaby (Wirtz, Tapsoba, Hincapié and Jeremie Frimpong). There are many teams that could realistically battle for 4th place (Frankfurt, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Wolfsburg and Mönchengladbach), but out of all of them, Leverkusen seems the most primed and ready to grab a spot in next year’s Champions League or maybe even challenge for spots further up the table?

Your Thoughts?

Who do you think is going to end up 4th in the upcoming Bundesliga season? Let me know in the comments below!