On Monday, Bayer Leverkusen began preparations for the upcoming 2014/15 season. Roger Schmidt, the new trainer and Bundesliga novice, arranged a morning session for the first training. While several World Cup players were missing from the training, Schmidt was able to welcome five new additions to the team, as well as one returning addition, who wants to make the most of his chance under the Bayer cross.
A total of 25 players were present on the training pitch at the BayArena. Missing were WC starters, Heun-Ming Son and Emir Spahic, who still have some vacation time, and Swiss newcomer Josip Drmic whose side is still alive in Brazil. Also not present were several players like Lars Bender (tendon injury), Oemer Toprak (thigh muscle tear), and Robbie Kruse (ACL).
Nevertheless, Schmidt was able to welcome newcomers Wendell (Gremio Porto Alegre), Dario Kresic (1. FSV Mainz 05), Tin Jedvaj (AS Roma), and Vladlen Yurchenko. A familiar face was also present: Karim Bellarabi.
The lively attacker has been under contract with Bayer since the summer of 2011, but, for various reasons, hasn’t been able to achieve a breakthrough. After two seasons, he had only 18 league matches (1 goal) in the books and in order to get some playing time he allowed himself to be loaned out to Eintracht Braunschweig, where he had played convincingly between 2008 and 2011.
Bellarabi wants to take the next steps at Bayer
And his return should prove to be worthwhile, because with 26 Bundesliga matches to his credit, Bellarabi became a regular for the Lions. At the end of the season he had three goals and five assists (kicker grade, 3.52)
“I’m coming back to Bayer more mature and experienced,” said the 24 year old, who wants to build on the match experience he collected at Braunschweig.
Words that will be pleasing to Bayer ears. The fast attacker has already proved his talent, and now the dribbler wants to take the next step and play a whole season at his highest level: “I want to be able to call up my performance consistently,” says the one-time junior national team player.
His chances in that regard are not bad. On the one hand, Sidney Sam, one of his competitors for playing time, has left for Schalke, and on the other Schmidt is counting on Bellarabi, because the technically gifted Bellarabi fits right into Schmidt’s philosophy: “We want to impress our fans with offensive football,” reported the 47 year-old on his first day of work with the Werksklub.