Leverkusen are going into the second half of the season with major injury worries. All the while, time is running out to supply the squad with new signings.
Leverkusen ended their Hinrunde in 6th place, and on 29 points. That is the worst Hinrunde Leverkusen have played in seven years. New coach Robin Dutt has felt the pressure from day one, and has been heavily criticized from all angles during his first season at the BayArena. The coach’s new methods, banning Nutella, changing the routine for post match interviews amongst other things, haven’t always been met with enthusiasm by his new surroundings. After Leverkusen’s 0-3 loss at home to Nürnberg the level of criticism that Dutt had to endure reached new heights, when Rudi Völler told several German media outlets after the game that ”the board had to re-think a few things during the winter break”, because ”the team hasn’t performed well enough during the Hinrunde”.
Peace and quiet for now
The storm around Dutt has somewhat calmed during the winter break, Völler hasn’t repeated his comments, and Bayer president Wolfgang Holzhäuser stated in several interviews that Dutt’s position at the club isn’t threatened. After Hanno Balitsch dismissal from the squad, and his move to Nürnberg afterwards, things have grown rather quiet around Dutt and Leverkusen. Things cooling down might be the reason for Dutt’s improved mood. He told sport1.de in an interview that the team is in good spirits:
“We have a great atmosphere in the team. The winter break came at the right time for all of us. I have a lot of fun with the team.”
While a couple of weeks out of the public’s limelight might have been just what the doctor had ordered for Dutt, it still stands to reason that the coach isn’t entirely enthused about the situation Bayer Leverkusen are in going into the Rückrunde. Bayer lost both its practice matches against Dutch teams Waalwjik and Heerenveen, 1-3 and 2-4 respectively, during their training camp in Portugal.
To make matters worse Sidney Sam caught tore a muscle in his thigh during the training camp, which will keep him side lined for weeks according to kicker. That puts the former Hamburg player on Leverkusen’s disabled list alongside Swiss international Tranquillo Barnetta, Rene Adler and Renato Augusto.
After letting Hanno Balitsch go, Dutt now has three midfielders out of commission for a while to come, and only 16 outfield players at his disposal at the start of the Rückrunde. Dutt himself isn’t happy about the situation, telling sport1.de:
”Every time a player is involved in a duel I’m fearing that something will happen.”
Furthermore Dutt states that singing new players in this transfer window would make sense.
”There one or two possible signings, I would hope for, but they have to make sense.”
Bayer Leverkusen have until Sunday to strengthen their squad before they’ll start into the Rückrunde playing Mainz in the BayArena. A number of players have already been mentioned as possible signings for Leverkusen, amongst them Duisburg’s defender André Hoffmann and Real Mallorca’s midfielder Akihiro Ienaga. Both names were mentioned at the beginning of transfer period, if Bayer will act and buy these two or any other players stands to be seen.
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