Category Archives: Transfers

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.

Arrivederci Vidal!

It’s official now! Juventus confirmed the signing of Arturo Vidal.

4 years did the Chilean sweat our shirt. Despite provoking his exit over the last months, we should try to remember Vidal in a positive way like other franchise players that also left us for bigger clubs at a similar point of their career:

  • Vidal: 144 official games with Bayer 04
  • Zé Roberto: 144 official games with Bayer 04
  • Ballack: 109 official games with Bayer 04 (till 2002)
  • Emerson: 103 official games with Bayer 04
  • Ponte: 101 official games with Bayer 04

More importantly for the first time in Leverkusen’s history a move to rival Bayern Munich was  given a categorical “No”.  Looking at reader comments in the German media, there is a lot of admiration expressed by fans of other clubs in how our management handled the situation.

Arturo Erasmo Vidal Pardo: 10 goals & 11 assists in Bundesliga season 2010/11

However not all can be praise for Rudi Völler and Wolfgang Holzhäuser!  There are still unanswered questions why in winter of 2010, Vidal’s contract extension did not get through.  Back then it was actually announced as a done deal.  The player recently said in an interview: “I want to leave Leverkusen because they were not willing to renew my contract.”  Certainly money played a role, linked to Vidal’s wage demands and/or the purchase of 30% of the player rights owned by former club Colo Colo.

Back in November 2010, I already had prepared a post celebrating his contract extension

What are the figures of this sale?

Difficult to say, as there are two sets of numbers printed in the media:

  • TRANSFER FEE TOTAL 15 MILLION EUROS>> 10,5 million euros flow in 3 installments to Leverkusen; 4,5 million euros will travel to Colo Colo
  • TRANSFER FEE TOTAL 10,5 MILLION EUROS>> 10,5 million euros flow in 3 installments to Leverkusen, but 30% (3,15 Mio) will have to be shared with Colo Colo. Leaving Bayer 04 with 7,35 million euros.

I believe it’s the first set of figures.

In both cases there will be incentives of up to 2 million euros on Vidal’s performance at the italian club.  The Werkself paid 5,2 million euros in 2007/08 to acquire Vidal (70% of player rights)

Will the money be reinvested?

The needed quality centre-back should arrive now.  From all the transfer gossips, I see Dante from Mönchengladbach joining us.  A goalkeeper could be also added to the squad.  René Adler is making first steps in his recovery, following further examinations the club can assess whether this is actually needed.

Sponsor situation / Arturo Vidal / First televised friendly / Bundesliga Schedule Fixture 1-7

The tender for the main and jersey sponsorship finalizes on Tuesday.  So far around 30-40 companies have submitted offers to succeed TelDaFax over the next 3 seasons.

According to a rumour spread by an auto-declared insider, the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group is favourite to win this tender.  Supposedly 7,5 million euros/per season are being offered, 1,5 million more than TelDaFax was paying us previously.  It’s unclear whether this would involve making publicity for both car brands of the group: Hyundai and Kia.  It’s all just speculation, don’t take it for granted. 😉

On a side note, a smaller sponsor: the Zillertal GmbH, who promotes the area where the Werkself is currently preparing the new season, has announced that they will not renew their sponsorship contract which was valued at 150.000 EUR/per season.

To what respects Arturo Vidal, the offers are increasing every day and the list of clubs interested is getting longer and longer (at the moment: Bayern Munich, Napoli, Juventus and Arsenal).  Our management continues to manifest that Bayern Munich has no chance in acquiring the Chilean this summer.  This attitude apart from driving offers to higher levels, has lead that other clubs outside of Germany show interest in the player.  The outcome will shape our future:

  • A sale to Bayern Munich: Will once again undermine that we are no more than a talent factory on which the Bundesliga giant feeds on.  Rudi Völler and Wolfgang Holzhäuser will lose credibility after months saying that he will not be sold to the Bavarians.
  • A sale to a foreign club: The management of Bayer 04 would keep it’s word and not grant Vidal’s wish to join his mentor Jupp Heynckes in Munich.  “Arturo, you can either take this financially attractive offer or fulfil your contract here.  We are not interested in strengthening Bayern this summer.”  The Werkelf would move away from its image of player’s haven.  In the past, the idea of most aspiring stars has been to grow in Leverkusen and then move to their dream club with relative ease and for a rather low amount.
  • Making Vidal fulfil his contract: A contract extension seems very unlikely.  Keeping the Chilean for another year and letting him go for free next summer, would show that Bayer 04 has big plans for this season and is not dependant on selling players whenever they reach a high market value.  Would it be wise? Difficult to say, on one hand we are more likely to repeat or play an even better season with Vidal on board, this will flush enough money to compensate for rejecting the idea of selling him.  On the other hand, looking at the available amount of alternatives for the defensive midfielder position, we could cash in nicely and try to improve the quality balance of our squad with the purchase of a decent centre-back.

Rumours are also going around of an alleged Bayern insider, who has been often but not always right in the past, that Vidal is moving to Munich for 15 +4 million euros in incentives.  I don’t think that this issue will be resolved before the end of the America Cup.

On Sunday Bayer will play it’s first televised friendly of this pre-season.  There should be a stream available to watch this match against Red Bull Salzburg.  More information in the chat tomorrow at kick-off (17:00, GMT+2)

The DFL has scheduled the first seven fixtures:

Fixture 1: Sunday 07/08/2011 @ 15:30: FSV Mainz 05 – Bayer04
Fixture 2: Sunday 14/08/2011 @ 17:30: Bayer04 – Werder Bremen
Fixture 3: Saturday 20/08/2011 @ 15:30: VfB Stuttgart – Bayer04
Fixture 4: Saturday 27/08/2011 @ 18:30: Bayer04 – Borussia Dortmund
Fixture 5: Friday 09/09/2011 @ 20:30: FC Augsburg – Bayer04
Fixture 6: Saturday 17/09/2011 @ 15:30: Bayer04 – 1. FC Cologne
Fixture 7: Saturday 24/09/2011 @18:30: Bayern Munich – Bayer04

Not an easy start into the season!!  In the Calendar you will find a full overview on what is happening over the next two months.

Click here to see all Bundesliga Fixtures.

Friendly: Bonn Allstars vs Bayer Leverkusen 1:9

The Werkself won it’s first test game by 9:1.  Kiessling and Bellarabi each scored a Hattrick.  According to Fans watching the match, the central-defense especially Stefan Reinartz was overrun several times.

Coach Robin Dutt said this week, that signing a new centre-back could happen.  However he wants to wait and evaluate the situation properly over the next test games and training sessions.

Bayer 04 used in this friendly the same tactical formation as last season under Heynckes:

———————–Giefer————————–

da Costa—Reinartz—Friedrich—-Oczipka

————–Ballack——–Bender—————–

Sam————-R.Augusto————-Bellarabi

———————–Kiessling———————–

Substitutions:
Toprak for Reinartz (46 min.)
Schwaab for Friedrich (46 min.)
Balitsch for Ballack (46 min.)
Castro for Bender (46 min.)
Vollborn for Giefer (65 min.)
Zenga for R.Augusto (65 min.)
Mentizis for Kiessling (65 min.)

Goals:
0:1 Kiessling (11 min.)
0:2 Bellarabi (18 min.)
0:3 Sam (24 min.)
0:4 Bellarabi (35 min.)
0:5 Kiessling (42 min./penalty)
0:6 Kiessling (51 min.)
0:7 Bellarabi (58 min.)
1:7 Aydogmus (61 min.)
1:8 Balitsch (82 min.)
1:9 Mentizis (88 min.)

Video Highlights: Bayer04.de

Karim Bellarabi

Fabrice Vollborn, our third goalkeeper?

Robin Dutt

More pictures @ 1904-online.de

Da Costa now forms part of the Bundesliga squad, he will no longer be involved with the youth team like last season.  I see him playing a lot of minutes under Dutt.

The other Bayer Youngster Fabrice Vollborn has good chances of becoming the third goalkeeper. If so, with only 18 years, the son of Bayer Legend Rüdiger Vollborn (Uefa-Cup Winner 1988), would automatically make himself with the goal of the second team.

Pre-Season 2011/12

Robin Dutt takes command of Leverkusen

Robin Dutt welcomes most of the players this Sunday with the first training session.

Find below an overview on how our Pre-Season is laid out (all times: GMT+2):

  • Sunday 19th of June, 15:00: First training session (Internationals will enjoy two more weeks of holidays)
  • Saturday, 25th of June, 17.30: Friendly, Bonner All-Star Team vs Bayer 04
  • Wednesday, 29th of June, 18.30: Friendly, TSV 1860 Rosenheim vs Bayer 04
  • Thursday, 30th of June: Start of Training Camp in Zillertal, Austria (Internationals join)
  • Sunday, 3rd of July, 17:00: Friendly, Red Bull Salzburg vs Bayer 04
  • Thursday, 7th of July, 18.30: Friendly, Bayer 04 vs TSV 1860 München
  • Friday, 8th of July: End of Training Camp in Zillertal, Austria
  • Wednesday, 13th of July, 18.30: Friendly, Bayer 04 vs Glasgow Rangers
  • Sunday, 17th of July, 16:00: Friendly, Club Bruges vs Bayer 04
  • Saturday, 23rd of July, 15.30: Friendly, Bayer 04 vs KRC Genk

No test games are played in the BayArena because of the FIFA Women’s World Cup (26th of June to 17th of July).

Arturo Vidal will join the Werkself hopefully two weeks after Chile’s last game in the America Cup (1st of July to 24th of July).

Both games against RB Salzburg and 1860 Munich during the Training Camp in Austria will be shown live on TV. The last three friendlies we should also be able to follow.

The first official match is against Dynamo Dresden away in the 1st Round of the DFB Pokal (29th of July to 1st of August). Bundesliga starts on the weekend of the 5th of August to 7th of August. I will keep you posted on exact dates and opponents once they are announced by the DFB and DFL.
__________________________________________

Domagoj Vida left us yesterday to Dinamo Zagreb >> Bayer04.de

A surprising move which could lead to the signing of a centre-back, this transfer gossip is hot at the moment:

Will talented centre-back Dante join Bayer Leverkusen?

Other options:

Liverpool’s Agger to Bayer 04?
Centre-back Mathias Zanka Jørgensen to Leverkusen?
Will we see centre-back Andreas Bjelland soon in Leverkusen?

Review of individual performances and new transfers

Club boss Wolfgang Holzhäuser said this week in an interview on Bayer04-TV that the first stage of the squad planning for the next season has finalized. Additional transfers could happen if injuries occur or the new coach Robin Dutt sees in the preseason a need to improve a certain position.

However, according to the German Press we have no further room for investments into our squad.  The guaranteed sum of around 20 million euros for playing the group-stage of the Champions League is already used up.  The transfer of Schürrle (8-10 million euros), the stadium upgrade (costs: around 80 million euros, financed by a 0% interest loan from the Bayer AG), contract extensions and generous investments in new players at times where the Werkself did not play internationally could mean that we will not see further spectacular signings this summer apart from André Schürrle.  

Transfer Balance
negative= Expenditure in Transfers > Income from Transfers
positive=
Income from Transfers > Expenditure in Transfers

currently Season 2011/12: -10.200.000 €
Season 2010/11: +850.000 € (Winter-Sale of Helmes turned balance positive)
Season 2009/10: -4.950.000 €
Season 2008/09: -7.050.000 €
Season 2007/08: -7.180.000 €
Season 2006/07: +8.270.000 €
Season 2005/06: +1.565.000 €
Season 2004/05: +11.986.000 €
<<W.Holzhäuser substitutes R.Calmund as CEO with the objective to reduce the accumulated debt during our great years>>
Season 2003/04: -1.200.000
Season 2002/03: -13.450.000 € (relegation was avoided in the last fixture)
Season 2001/02: -2.150.000 € (3x 2.place)

More details>> Transfermarkt.de 

Find below a personal review on the individual season performances of the current squad and new signings; players that will continue on loan or be sold; or have left us this year.

Legend

Red= player leaving us
Green= new signing
Blue= future uncertain

Rating= from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).  

RB= right-back
CB= centre-back
LB= left-back
DM= defensive midfield
RM= right midfield
LM= left midfield
OM= offensive midfield (central)
ST= striker

CURRENT SQUAD AND NEW SIGNINGS

GOALKEEPERS

René Adler: Overall steady from beginning to end with not many point losing mistakes.  Spectacular saves from him have been rare this season compared to other years.  Should extend his contract (running till 2012) in the next 2-3 weeks. *7*

Fabian Giefer: Did a good job when René Adler was out in two Bundesliga and two Europa League games. Good prospects for the future! *6*

Benedikt Fernandez: Played for the reserve team, will move to a 2.Bundesliga team. (contract expires) *no rating*

Tomasz Bobel: No match practice, will leave us too (contract expires). *no rating*

We will need to sign a third goalkeeper or promote one from the youth team.

DEFENSE

Gonzalo Castro (RB,LB,LM): Seems to perform at a higher level in midfield, where ball losses and poor positioning are less noticeable. His three goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga, show his offensive potential. *7*

Daniel Schwaab (RB,CB): Was stronger this season in the centre-back position than as right-back. His change of position arose due to Hyypiä’s declining physical form. Great at initiating attacks from defense (can run forward with the ball and play a difficult pass). A quality which Stefan Reinartz and Manuel Friedrich lack. *7*

Stefan Reinartz (CB,DM): Not dynamic enough for the centre-back position, although he improved in the second part of the season. However, quick and agile strikers will continue to have it easy against him. Better off in defensive midfield. *4*

Manuel Friedrich (CB): Had a good stretch of games before the winter break. A shoulder injury made him miss most of the second part of the season. Given his age (32 in August) little room for physical improvement (slow). *5*

Sami Hyypiä (CB): It was an honor to have such a great player in our team. His second season at Bayer 04 was marked by an injury before the winter-break followed by a declining physical form during the rest of the season. Sami decided to renounce his last year of contract as he did not feel confident on playing another season at the level he would like to.  The Finnish player will use next season to obtain his coaching license.  He will work as an assistant to Finland’s national coach Mika-Matti Paatelainen and undergo trainee-ships at different clubs including Bayer 04. In 2012/13 he will join the Werkself as assistant coach for at least two years. *6*

Ömer Toprak (CB): New signing for Leverkusen coming from Freiburg. We have been following this centre-back the last three years.  A severe karting accident at the beginning of 2009 stopped his progression, he was out for over six months.  It took quite a while till he reached the level before the incident, 2010 was surely not his year.   In 2011 he had four decent games over the full distance, but once the news got out that he would move to Leverkusen, his performances dropped again.  Ömer finished the season with a red card, that did not allow him to play the season finale against Bayer 04. *4*

Michal Kadlec (LB,LM): Improved in comparison to last season, but never regained the level of his first year with Bruno Labbadia. Linked with Liverpool in the last months. *7*

Bastian Oczipka (LB,LM): This Bayer youngster has been on loan for three years, first at Hansa Rostock and then St.Pauli. In both clubs he was part of the starting line-up and therefore added 82 league games on both loan spells. Bastian played a great Bundesliga season but suffered a bone injury in the 23rd fixture which put an end to it. He is considered as one of the uprising German talents on the left back position together with Marcel Schmelzer (Dortmund) and Felix Bastians (Freiburg). With his return to Leverkusen, Kadlec will finally have the chance to receive a rest when needed.  As mentioned above he could also be the replacement for the Czech player in case of a transfer to Liverpool.  The initial report of Bild that Oczipka would be sold to Hoffenheim for 3 million Euros was false, the player confirmed his return last week in an interview. *7*

Domagoj Vida (RB,CB): Played only one Bundesliga and eight Europa League games. Solid on the defensive end, Domagoj should concentrate on improving his game going forward, especially passing and centers. Despite having some experience as centre-back in his previous team NK Osijek, Jupp Heynckes did not consider him for this position mainly because of his height (1,82 m), a factor he considers important. If Robin Dutt thinks the same will have to be seen. I expect him to break-through next season, considering that his first year was also marked by the adaptation to a new environment (did not speak any word of English or German when he arrived). *4*

Danny da Costa (RB,CB,RM): The youth player gave a solid debut with the first team against Atletico Madrid. Physically strong and versatile, I hope he gets more minutes next season despite sitting his Baccalaureate. If you look at the current squad: only Adler, Castro and Reinartz have made themselves with a regular place in the team coming from the youth section of Bayer 04. Too little, for a club that is praised nationwide for its excellent work in this area. *no rating*

MIDFIELD

Arturo Vidal (DM, RB): The Chilean played an extraordinary season with ten goals and nine assists in the league. It is no wonder that he has caught the attention of many big clubs (Bayern, Chelsea, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Inter/AC Milan…).  Known in the past for too many aggressive fouls and cards, Arturo has managed to finish the Bundesliga season with only four yellows and one yellow-red in 33 games. His contract expires in 2012 and he has so far rejected all contract extension offers. Both Holzhäuser and Völler said recently that he will play so or so next season with us. Is this just a way to increase the price tag or are we really going to hold onto him without seeing a buck next year if he continues to reject a contract extension and signs with another team? *10*

Sidney Sam (RM,LM): One of the best newcomers in the 1.Bundesliga.  Seven goals and three assists is a dream start for him in Germany’s highest division. Jupp Heynckes preferred him to play Robben style (strong left foot) on the right side, will Dutt too? *8*

Simon Rolfes (DM): Had a couple of good games (especially the one against Wolfsburg) when he came back from his injury but in the last matches of the season declined severely and was consequently taken out of the starting line-up. A large proportion of the Fans see him inadequate for the captain role, because he often fails to deliver in big games. They want to see Michael Ballack as captain. I personally doubt that Robin Dutt will have the “balls” to change the leadership in the team.  I would welcome it, but it’s a tough decision that can affect the atmosphere in the team!   *5*

Renato Augusto (RM,OM,LM): With six goals and six assists this was his best season at Leverkusen. Playing in a central position helped him to step-up his game. Renato has learned to minimize his ball losses by avoiding risky dribbling in situations that could lead to a counter-attack. His work against the ball has also improved *9*

Lars Bender (DM): Despite having strong competitors on his position (Rolfes, Vidal and Ballack) Lars played 26 Bundesliga games and fulfilled his role regularly. A player with great prospects for the future. *7*

Hanno Balitsch (RB,DM,CB): His signing was seen skeptical by many fans at the beginning but he quickly turned this around with his fighter nature on the pitch. Great versatile back-up player! *6*

Michael Ballack (DM/OM): Chased by injuries in 2010, he has given the team some stability in the last stretch of games. Hopefully we will see next season the real Ballack giving the team a lot of goals and assists! *6*

Kevin Kampl (DM): The twenty year-old Slovenian youth player did not get a chance to play with the professional team. Future uncertain! *no rating*

Burak Kaplan (RM,LM): Was loaned out to Greuther Fürth (2.Bundesliga) in the winter-break. Despite being technically gifted, he is not making the next step given his difficult character. Jupp Heynckes more than once criticized his attitude in the training sessions. Only played four games in the Europa League in which he did not convince. At Greuther Fürth he scored three goals (all by set-piece) but his loaning spell ended with a disciplinary suspension by coach Michael Büskens which made him return to Bayer 04 earlier than expected. Will be loaned out again or sold. *2*

Tranquillo Barnetta (RM,LM): Not a great year for last-season assist leader of the Werkself. Only two goals and two assists in 24 league games are poor stats for the Swiss national player. An injury made him miss most of the second part of the season. Every year there are rumours that he might leave us, looking at the signings of Schürrle and Bellarabi his future at Bayer 04 is again uncertain. *3*

André Schürrle (LM,RM,ST): Mainz’s success this season is mainly due to his impressive year (15 goals / 5 assists). The signing will cost us 8 to 10 million euros depending on our results. *10*

Karim Bellarabi (RM,ST): This German-Moroccan 21 year-old talent of Eintracht Braunschweig was chased by a few Bundesliga clubs this season including Dortmund and Hoffenheim. Personally I never have seen him play but from what I heard he is a very quick right midfielder/striker. This season he scored in the 3.Liga eight goals and gave sixteen assists in 35 games.  He comes on a free transfer. There has been no talk about loaning him out, so he is set to be another speedy alternative on the wings next to Sidney Sam and André Schürrle. *7*

ATTACK

Eren Derdiyok (ST): Some of his six goals in the league were a real beauty, but he will want to forget this season as quickly as possible. Especially his barren run between fixture 8 and 23 (872 minutes) in which he did not score a single Bundesliga goal. Needs to improve his pressing on the rival defense and make more out of his chances.  Last week linked to FC Sevilla, I don’t think he will switch Champions League for Europa League *4*

Stefan Kießling (ST,RM): Best Werkself striker this season with seven goals and three assists. However Stefan could not confirm the great performance of last season. The long injury and formation change surely played a part but the blond striker also missed quite a lot of open chances on goal in the last games of the season which could have increased his account significantly. *5*

Nicolai Jörgensen (ST,LM,RM): While Domagoj Vida showed that he has potential, Nicolai in his nine Bundesliga and seven Europa League game did not display signs of quality. A season on loan could do him well. *2*

PLAYERS THAT WILL CONTINUE ON LOAN OR BE SOLD

Zvonko Pamic (RM,OM): He was signed last summer for 500.000 EUR from HNK Rijeka and directly loaned out to Freiburg. Despite playing a good Under-19 European Championship (3 goals and 1 assist) Robin Dutt only gave him a few minutes in two Bundesliga games. He will be loaned another year to MSV Duisburg (2.Bundesliga). *no rating*

Jens Hegeler (DM, RM,CB): Together with Bastian Oczipka the best performing Bayer 04 player on loan this season and partly responsible for Nuremberg’s success this year. He returned last summer to Leverkusen after a 1 ½ year loan spell at FC Augsburg (2.Bundesliga) and asked to be loaned out again considering that he will have it hard to obtain match practise with the signing of Michael Ballack.  Jens played all 34 Bundesliga games at Nuremberg scoring three goals and giving three assists. Although more a defensive midfielder, he has played several games on the right wing. His loan spell finishes in 2012, if Leverkusen decides to sell him Nuremberg has a preference purchase right. *7*

Lucas (CB): This 19 year-old talent is a ghost, as hardly any information is available on him.  More than a year ago Leverkusen’s scouts discovered Lucas in Brazil and decided to sign the tall center-back from Associação Portuguesa de Desportos (Sao Paulo).  Last summer, he was supposed to take part in the season preparation of the professional team and play in some friendlies. It did not happen.  In January 2011 he was sent on loan for 1 1/2 years to Kaiserslautern, where he did not play a single game nor sat on the bench this season.  The club from the Betzenberg was granted a purchase option.  *no rating*

Hajime Hosogai (DM,LB): Regarded in Japan as one of the best players of the J-League, Hajime had a hard time to find a spot on the starting line-up of Augsburg.  Only at the end of the season did he play a few games over the full distance. His loan spell ends in the June 2012. *3*

Thanos Petsos (RB,DM): The greek Under-21 player was loaned out this summer to Kaiserlautern. Normally a right-back in the youth teams of Bayer 04, he made himself with a place in the first eleven as defensive midfielder from Fixture 12 onwards. He will continue for another season at Kaiserlautern. *5*

Richard Sukuta-Pasu (ST): In his second season at St.Pauli, Richie continued to struggle.  He only got play 155 minutes in the Bundesliga (1 goal + 1 assist). His loan spell at St.Pauli ends this summer and Kaiserlautern seems to be keen on purchasing the striker. *1*

Constant Djakpa (LB,LM): Not more than a back-up player at Hannover. It is not expected that the German club will make use of the purchase option.  Bayer 04 is likely to sell him.  According to English news reports, Newcastle United is interested in the player. *2*

PLAYERS THAT LEFT US THIS SEASON

Patrick Helmes (ST): Was sold in the winter-break after disagreements with coach Jupp Heynckes over his standing in the team. Unsatisfied with the amount of minutes he got to play, the 1-striker tactical formation and the demands of doing more defensive work on the pitch, he switched to Wolfsburg for an initial fee of 5 million and 3 million euros in installments. Under coach Steve McClaren and later Felix Magath he did not manage to make an impact. Patrick only scored one goal in seven matches and was more a substitute than a starter. Magath declared in an interview that he should improve his physical condition. Personally, I am not a fan of Helmes (passive player) and think that if he wants to be successful in the future he will have to work on his weaknesses, something he has was not prepared to do in Leverkusen (kept complaining). *4*

Marcel Risse (RM,LM): The winger has grown at Mainz despite not being a regular starter. In 25 league games he scored 2 goals and gave 5 assists. Risse was loaned out at the beginning of this season and Mainz used the purchase option of 800.000 Euros to acquire him. The amount was initially higher but was then reduced in the negotiations for the Schürrle Transfer. *6*

THOUGHTS ON NEXT SEASON’S SQUAD & TACTICS

I like very much the idea of improving our wings with speedy players; this seems to be the objective with the transfers of André Schürrle and Karim Bellarabi. Under Heynckes the wingers were told to go inside and look for a finish or pass. With Robin Dutt as coach we can expect a few more centers from the goal line. The 1-striker formation (4-2-3-1) is likely to continue.  At Freiburg our new coach used successfully Cissé (22 goals) as lonely striker. Whether Kiessling or Derdiyok can deliver in similar fashion is a big question. Has it do with the tactics we played under Heynckes (not enough centres? too defensive?) that they had such a poor record or are both not made to play lonely in attack?

In the last days I have been thinking that selling Vidal would be not totally wrong.  If we really have no more room for further investments in our rather weak central defense, would it not make sense to let him leave for 20 million euros (to a foreign club, not Bayern!)? We would receive 70% of the transfer fee (Colo Colo 30%), 14 million euros and could replace for example Manuel Friedrich with a quality centre-back like Höwedes, Dante, Mertesacker.  Another option would be moving Reinartz into midfield to avoid having five centre-backs for two positions.

Hyypiä has led very well our defense in the last two years, I have my doubts that between Schwaab, Reinartz, M.Friedrich and Toprak a new leader can emerge who will coordinate our defensive line in a similar way. Against medium/bottom table teams this can be enough, but to make another step forward and play an even better season I see this configuration insufficient.

Looking forward to your comments, there is a lot to talk about 😉