Bayer Leverkusen strategy pays off | Sports | DW

After Patrick Schick and Moussa Diaby’s goals from Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s return to the Champions League, Rudi Voeller and Simon Rolfes shook hands. Together they were delighted to be part of this success for their club. Rolfes, the current sporting director, will replace Fuller as sporting director at the end of the season. The 40-year-old recently told DW that the sale of Kai Havertz to Chelsea and Julian Brandt to Borussia Dortmund, which funded the transfers of Schick and Diaby, was part of a broader strategy aimed at bridging the gap between series champion FC. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

“The strategy was to build a young team with young players with a lot of talent. We believe we can deal with this talent and it is an ideal environment for players with great potential like Moussa Diaby,” said the former Germany international. “We are trying to grow with the talent and potential of the players in our team, taking steps forward and maybe keeping them for a year or two longer than they would normally be here,” he added.

Diaby in the English Premier League scenes

Diaby’s whereabouts in particular could prove difficult, even if he could now play in the Champions League again with Leverkusen. The 22-year-old has been linked with Premier League side West Ham United and Newcastle United. He showed all his skills at Hoffenheim: He set up Patrick Schick’s first goal for Leverkusen with a quick lead and a precise cross pass, and equalized to make it 2-2 by himself after Schick’s preliminary work.

Moussa Diaby has improved a lot this season and is also interesting for other clubs

But today it wasn’t just for the French: Schech scored a second goal and Lucas Alario scored the final point in extra time in a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim, which meant a return to the first division in Europe. Alario’s goal was Werkself’s 78th goal this season – Leverkusen haven’t scored much in a single season. “That’s the fantasy we had with these players: It came alive, not only in the mind but also on the pitch,” Rolfes said before the current team’s game.

Champions League as an argument

Given the financial gap between Europe’s top clubs and those directly below them, such as Leverkusen, Rolfes believes it is one of the few ways to sign players like Diaby or the currently injured Florian Werts before Leverkusen’s position becomes too small for them. Players in this category need the UEFA Champions League to survive. Now Leverkusen has a chance to develop further and possibly close the gap against Borussia Dortmund, if not Bayern Munich.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs Juventus Turin with Cristiano Ronaldo

Leverkusen’s last appearance in the Champions League so far: in December 2019 against Juventus Turin

“I am very proud of the team: a lot of people no longer believe in us,” said defender Jonathan Tah, referring to the fact that a recent weakness phase accompanied by several injuries threatens to derail the success of the season. . But coach Gerardo Siwan and his team put the Bayer ship back on track with three straight wins. “We are really happy,” Rolfes told Sky after securing qualification. “We lost the Champions League in the last two years, so that was our big goal this season.”

Constant search for an alternative

After more than 20 years of sporting responsibility at Leverkusen, Rudi Voller can now retire with peace of mind knowing his club is doing well both on and off the field. On the other hand, the work for his successor is just beginning. If Moussa Diaby does indeed leave Leverkusen, it will bring him about 55 million euros, but it will still be difficult to find a suitable replacement. However, this is a task that Simon Rolfes faces primarily in every summer of transitions – and which he has mastered more than once.

Simon Rolfes, sporting director of Bayer, on the bench at Hoffenheim

Bayer sporting director Simon Rolfes

“Imagine Kai [Havertz] He will still play here, with Florian [Wirtz]With Moses and Patrick Schick in our attack, that would be great,” Rolfes told DW. But sometimes we have to sell a player. When we sold Kay we knew we had Moses. You’re in luck if you’re one of the top six clubs in Europe, you probably don’t have to make any sales. But for all the other clubs, that’s part of life.”

Even with Patrik Schick, it is not yet said that he will actually honor his contract, which runs until 2025. Rumors of a possible Robert Lewandowski departure from Bayern Munich have surfaced repeatedly in recent weeks. If the Pole leaves Munich, the check for his logical successor will be – because Dortmund’s Erling Haaland is not available for Munich. But here, too, Fuller and Rolfes have already done their homework. With Iranian Sardar Azmoun they signed a versatile and dangerous striker during the winter break.

The text was excerpted from the English language.

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