Category Archives: Bernd Leno

Bernd Leno is here to stay…is Bayer?

When Bild, kicker magazine, and Bayer Leverkusen’s own website announced that 19-year old goal keeping phenom, Bernd Leno, had signed a five-and-a-half year contract to continue wearing the Bayer cross on his jersey, Leverkusen fans couldn’t be blamed for greeting the news with sudden cheer and then immediate sadness. Elation at signing one of the foremost young talents in the Bundesliga, and depression at the reality that we’ve probably seen the last of a Leverkusen goal-keeping legend, who has been with the club since 2000 as a youth. Rene Adler is working his way back to fitness after a patella injury (knee), and although his physical therapy is progressing, it also seems to be taking longer than most originally anticipated. In fact, in the last several days he has had to scale back his rehab schedule, suggesting that he won’t be back in early January as planned.

At the beginning of the season, Adler’s injury, and a lack of faith in in-house options David Yelldell and Fabian Giefer, was enough of a concern for Leverkusen brass, Rudi Völler and Wolfgang Holzhäuser, to make them look for a suitable replacement outside of the team. Enter 19 year old Bernd Leno, who was plying his trade as the back-up (and heir-apparent) goalkeeper at VfB Stuttgart. When he came to Leverkusen after the second game of the season it was to be on a half-season loan basis only, but that was before Leno kept three straight clean sheets in his first games and acquitted himself as a Champion’s League-quality keeper. By early October, it had become clear that it would be in Leverkusen’s (and Leno’s) best interest to retain him, and efforts were begun to ensure that he would stay at the BayArena after the initial loan period. Indeed, Leno offered his analysis of the situation by indicating that he wanted to be in Leverkusen and that it would be truly “bitter” for him if he couldn’t advance with the rest of the team into next year’s knock-out stage in the Champion’s League tournament.

Depending on reports, Leverkusen paid Stuttgart somewhere between 7 and 8 million Euros for Bernd Leno’s services – a fee that caused many Leverkusen jaws to drop. It is, as the glass half-empty pessimist will tell you, one of the most expensive goal keeper transfers ever within the league (only Manuel Neuer’s move to Bayern cost more – much more), but, as the glass half-full optimist will tell you, it’s less than what Stuttgart were asking for initially. Early on in the negotiations, Bayer had offered 6 million Euros to keep the young goalie, but Stuttgart came back with a stupefying demand of 10 million. After both sides quieted down somewhat they met again, and the final cost of the sale indicates that both sides made concessions and found a compromise all parties could live with. As Stuttgart’s own Fredi Bobic stated, “In the end, it was a business decision, which all interested parties could easily live with.”

Well, one interested party, Rene Adler, is probably not thrilled about this development, but he probably shouldn’t be the focus of this new deal. Adler, if he returns to 100% fitness, should have no problem finding another club to retain his services. Whether that’s in Germany or abroad is, at this time, inconsequential – if he’s willing to lower his asking price, he will play again, and at a high level. Rather, my focus is on the team that Leverkusen is (not so) slowly assembling, seemingly piece by piece. The second most important jewel of last summer’s transfer window was, of course, Andre Schuerrle, for whom Bayer paid almost the same amount of money as the it did for Leno. This coming summer, the club has already lined up CB Philip Wollscheid from FC Nuernberg for 5 million Euro, giving Leverkusen a potentially formidable, and more importantly young, interior back two with Omer Toprak.

The 13 million Euro that Leverkusen have spent for Leno and Wollscheid would appear to be a bargain for two of the most talented young players at their positions. We certainly know now where some of that 20 million Euro from the Champion’s League will be going, and we can only hope that it won’t be needed to pay penalties for the Tel Da Fax fiasco. But, more importantly, both are locked into contracts until 2017, which continues Leverkusen’s practice of handing out five year contracts to its younger players (sorry, Micha). Additionally, players like Schuerrle and Toprak are signed through 2016, and you have to believe that Leverkusen will do everything in their power to re-sign Lars Bender at the end of his term in 2014, while highly talented young players like Danny Da Costa and Karim Bellarabi will be asked to contribute more in the next years.

Now, any number of unanswered questions still stare Leverkusen in the face, especially what will happen with some of the current squad who are injured. Players like Renato Augusto, Hanno Balitsch, and Tranquilo Barnetta were expected to provide important leadership and/or reliable support, but the success of the team (especially in the Champion’s League) without these players suggests that they might not be as integral as previously thought. Older players like Simon Rolfes, Manuel Friedrich, and Michael Ballack will be handled on an individual basis, but one feels as if perhaps we should begin our good-byes soon.

Finally, to my point; as a glass half-full optimist, it feels as if the right foundations are being laid for…wait for it…a title by 2014/2015! Yes, it’s a pie in the sky dream that every Leverkusen fan has every couple of years, but it seems as if the stars are really starting to align again, and the current crop of young players being brought in suggests that Voeller and Holzhaeuser are intent on building a team to challenge the Bayerns and Dortmunds of the Bundesliga for the foreseeable future. And at the back of it all, standing confidently and non-plussed, will be a young man with the same initials as the team for which he plays. Bernd Leno, Bayer Leverkusen…it feels like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Bayer 04 players with their national teams (12/11/2011-15/11/2011)

12/11/2011: Let’s start with the Bayer 04 trio in the Germany team playing against Ukraine. The friendly, away to one of the hosts of next year’s European Championships, kicked off with no Leverkusen players in the starting line-up. Joachim Löw’s team were 3-1 down at the break having suffered at the hands of the Ukrainian counter attacks. Germany came back into the game following the introduction of Simon Rolfes and André Schürrle at the start of the second half. Rolfes, who replaced Sami Khedira, scored his second international goal in his 25th appearance on 65 minutes. André Schürrle, this time playing on the right, was also involved in some good moves. Thomas Müller netted the equaliser on 77 minutes. Toni Kroos scored the first goal. Bayer 04 midfielder Lars Bender also came on in the closing stages of the game to earn his third international cap for Germany.

Michal Kadlec was able to think more seriously about the prospects of playing in the Euro 2012 finals after Friday night’s game. The Czech Republic beat Montenegro 2-0 in the first leg of the play-off in Prague. Kadlec, who has established himself as one of the Czech Republic’s leading performers in the Euro qualifiers, played the full 90 minutes. A situation completely different for Ömer Toprak. The Bayer 04 central defender had to look on from the bench as Turkey suffered a 3-0 reverse in the Euro play-off against Croatia.

Bayer 04 keeper Bernd Leno was able to watch an extremely unusual encounter. Bernd did not play in the Germany U-21 Euro qualifier away to Greece but was able to witness his team register a 5-4 win. The score was 3-3 after 87 minutes before a sensational finale. The Germany U-19s, with Bayer 04 defender Danny da Costa in their ranks, secured a 2-1 narrow win in a friendly against Egypt at Pirmasens. It was also a good night for Nicolai Jörgensen who came on in the second half of Denmark’s 2-0 win against Sweden. Eren Derdiyok was sidelined as Switzerland earned a respectable 0-0 draw in Holland. The Werkself striker was suffering from a flu.

15/11/2011: Michal Kadlec and the Czech Republic have made it: The Bayer 04 defender was in the Czech side that beat Montenegro 1-0 in last night’s play-off following the 2-0 win in the first leg. The Czech Republic can count themselves lucky to come away from Podgorica with a win as the hosts were on top for much of the game. The Czech back four around Kadlec, who played the full 90 minutes, and the outstanding keeper Petr Cech kept the Montenegro attack at bay and Jiracek scored the winning goal against the run of play on 81 minutes. They now join the other 15 teams at next summer’s finals in Poland and Ukraine. The group draw is on 2 December.

As expected, Turkey had to throw in the towel against Croatia after the 3-0 home defeat in the first leg. The Turkish side did manage to secure a 0-0 draw in Zagreb. Ömer Toprak made his full international debut for his country and he produced a good performance over 90 minutes, but it was not enough.

Simon Rolfes and Lars Bender played in the friendly between Germany and Holland in Hamburg. The Werkself midfield duo both came off the bench in the closing stages of the impressive 3-0 win in the Hanseatic city. André Schürrle missed out after going down with the flu.

The Germany U-21s, with keeper Bernd Leno on the bench, notched up a 3-0 victory in their Euro qualifier against Cyprus to extend their impressive run of seven wins in seven games.

Bayer 04 strikers Eren Derdiyok and Nicolai Jörgensen were involved in friendlies. Derdiyok, having recovered from the flu, played the whole game as the lone striker for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team that secured a 1-0 win in Luxembourg. Denmark beat Finland 2-1 with Jörgensen coming on at the hour mark to earn his second full international cap.

Source: Bayer04.de (12/11) // Bayer04.de (16/11)

Videos uploaded by third party with no link to Mundilev.tk. We assume no responsibility for it!

Ukraine vs Germany 3-3 (Iarmolenko, Konoplyanka, Kroos, Nazarenko, Rolfes, Müller)

Czech Republic vs Montenegro 2-0 (Pilař, Sivok)

Turkey vs Croatia 0-3 (Olić, Mandžukić, Čorluka)

Greece U21 vs Germany U21 4-5 (Petsos, Mlapa, Mlapa, Fortounis, Esswein, Petsos, Bell, Vlachodimos, Mlapa)

Denmark vs Sweden 2-0 (Bendtner, Krohn-Dehli)

Montenegro vs Czech Republic 0-1 (Jiráček)

Croatia vs Turkey 0-0

Germany vs Holland 3-0 (Müller, Klose, Özil)

A Twist of Leno

by SchnixB04 (follow on Twitter)

Heeeyyy, a twist of Leno,
Yeah, it drives my brain-o,
Yeah, a twist of Leno,
Makes me come alive!

At the conclusion of Leverkusen’s match against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday, fans of goalkeeping, and goalkeepers in general, must have flicked off the television immensely satisfied by the performances of two of Germany’s most talented, young keepers. Marc-André ter Stegen, the man between the sticks for Mönchengladbach, held Leverkusen to an early goal and looked to be in line for a win until Bayer’s own André (Schürrle) scored his first goal for the Werkself in typical fashion. Taking the ball wide on the left, he cut inside and unleashed a devastating right-footed shot that ter Stegen had no chance to save. The Borussians had one final chance to win the match outright, but the hero of the day and the inspiration behind the twisted Danzig lyrics above, Bernd Leno, denied Marco Reus for what seemed like the 100th time at the final whistle. Particularly noteworthy was that the new face of young goalkeepers in Germany actually used his face to stop the shot, knocking himself unconscious in the process. After he came to Leno had to be told by a trainer that he had stopped the shot. How’s that for heroics?!

Saturday’s hero has inspired a lot of praise from football pundits, fans, and players alike during his short tenure at Levkerkusen. His journey to the BayArena and Champion’s League football (what you got, VfB?) hasn’t necessarily taken the most traditional route, but his current destination seems to be one that suits him. Leno played his first game for the Werkself on match day 2, replacing promising young Bayer keeper Fabian Giefer, who had suffered a concussion the week before. Geifer himself had replaced an ineffective David Yelldell, who had been brought from 2. Bundesliga club MSV Duisburg to replace the injured Rene Adler, whose knee injury ensured that he would be out until the new year. Leverkusen brass moved quickly to sign Leno, who was on the bench behind Sven Ulreich at VfB Stuttgart, on-loan until the end of the year. From his first start he looked like the answer to Leverkusen’s goalkeeping woes. Three clean sheets in his first three matches attested to his ability, and it must have been particularly satisfying for the 19-year old to come back to Stuttgart in his second match for Leverkusen and walk out of the Mercedes-Benz Arena a 1-0 winner.

Since then, Leno has been nothing short of “Lenomenal!” Showing a maturity beyond his years, the young man has been a wall for Bayer 04 since his arrival. Furthermore, he has also shown that the bright lights of the big stage do not frighten him, as his performances in both of Leverkusen’s Champion’s League matches have made clear. His most recent performance against ‘Gladbach was so impressive that you would have been hard pressed on Monday to find a newspaper that did not name Leno as their goalkeeper of the week. Naturally, his performance has fans and team brass swooning like 13-year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert, and last week Bayer’s CEO, Wolfgang Holzhäuser, even suggested holding on to Leno when Adler returns from injury. That is not likely to happen as neither keeper would be satisfied in a supporting role. How this situation will be resolved still remains to be seen, but until then Leverkusen fans should continue to enjoy the ride. After all, so far it’s been Lenomenal!

Video uploaded by third party with no link to Mundilev.tk. We assume no responsibility for it!