Bayer Leverkusen top the Bundesliga after nine matchdays and the signing of Granit Xhaka from Arsenal in the summer has elevated Die Werkself’s midfield. The Swiss international has shone since his €25m move and has created quite the partnership with World Cup winner Exequiel Palacios.
Recruitment has always been admirable at Bayer Leverkusen over the last 18-24 months but in what was a youthful team, they needed that experience. They’re brought that to the club in the form of Xhaka, Jonas Hofmann and Alex Grimaldo. And under Xabi Alonso, Bayer are playing a brand of football we’re not accustomed to seeing in Germany.
In Xhaka, Bayer Leverkusen have a player that can play several roles. According to FBRef, no player across Europe’s top five leagues have played more passes into the final third than Xhaka (104). He leads Girona duo Aleix García (94) and Daley Blind (90), and Manchester City’s Rodri (89). Not only that, Xhaka leads the way for progressive passes (87) in the Bundesliga, while just seven players have more touches (952) on the ball across Europe’s top five leagues this season – the former Arsenal player is clearly influential. He’s also in the 91st percentile for pass completion.
And that, combined with the tactical nouse of Alonso, ability of Florian Wirtz, Victor Boniface and Co. is the reason why Bayer Leverkusen are deservedly leading the Bundesliga. Whether or not that can sustain that for the remainder of the season is to be seen, but they’re certainly turning heads and rightfully so.
GGFN | Daniel Pinder