Bayer Leverkusen

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Bundesliga: Leverkusen throttle HSV; Hannover remain unbeaten

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BERLIN (AP) Three days after being cleared to play by FIFA, Argentine striker Lucas Alario scored one goal and set up another on his debut for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Hamburger SV 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Alario struck midway through the first half, converting a cross from Leon Bailey, who also set up Kevin Volland’s opening goal just three minutes before.

A moment of class from Julian Brandt sent Alario through with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the Argentine had the awareness to spot the better-positioned Volland to seal the win.

Alario went off moments later to warm applause from fans.

“The goal is the cream on top. He played very well, scored the goal and combined with others. He worked well coming back and his first goal wasn’t so easy to score,” Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich said.

Alario’s first appearance for Leverkusen was held up when previous club River Plate objected to his transfer through the Argentine soccer association (AFA), which denied his playing rights.

The Buenos Aires-based club contended that Alario’s transfer was invalid as Leverkusen paid his release clause of $28.6 million on Aug. 31, after the Argentine season began, which it said was against FIFA rules.

Leverkusen then took the case to FIFA, which ruled in its favor on Thursday.

Leverkusen’s second win in six games eased the pressure on new coach Herrlich after a difficult start.

Counterpart Markus Gisdol remains in need of a change in fortune, however, after four straight defeats. Hamburg next faces Werder Bremen, Mainz and Bayern Munich.


Cologne fought its way to its first point in a 0-0 draw at promoted Hannover after starting the Bundesliga with five straight defeats.

Now the last-place side hopes it can build on the point.

“The luck will come back and the chances we had today will go in,” Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said. “We’ll start winning the games again. But the precondition was this performance that we delivered today.”

Peter Stoeger’s side, which has scored only one goal all season, hasn’t netted in its last four league games. That highlighted the extent to which Cologne relied on French striker Anthony Modeste, sold in the offseason in a big-money move to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.

Modeste scored 25 Bundesliga goals for Cologne last season. His replacement, former Mainz striker Jhon Cordoba, is yet to score in six games.

“We all have to be satisfied with the draw,” said Hannover general manager Horst Heldt, whose fourth-place side remains one of three unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.

Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter remained unbeaten in 15 games across two divisions.

Dortmund’s Sven Bender to join twin brother at Leverkusen

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LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) Bayer Leverkusen is signing Sven Bender from Bundesliga rival Borussia Dortmund, reuniting the German midfielder with his twin brother Lars, who captains the club.

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Leverkusen says the 28-year-old Bender will sign a contract through June 2021 after undergoing a medical examination.

Bender played 158 Bundesliga games for Dortmund after joining from 1860 Munich – where his brother also played – in 2009. He won the Bundesliga with Dortmund in 2011 and 2012, as well as the German Cup in 2012 and 2017.

Bender says he requested to leave in order to get more games. He made only eight appearances last season due to injury and competition for places.

Leverkusen did not give financial details. But Kicker magazine reports Leverkusen will pay around 15 million euros ($17 million) for the player, who has made seven appearances for Germany.

West Ham launch bid for Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez?

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Is “Chicharito” heading back to the Premier League?

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Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer is reportedly attracting interest from West Ham United, with the El Tri star having a $16.8 million release clause in his contract.

Sky Sports in the UK reported on Monday that West Ham are in talks with Bayer Leverkusen and ProSoccerTalk understands that there is strong interest in Hernandez from the Hammers.

Chicharito’s contract has just 12 months remaining and this season is a big one for him ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia with El Tri all but qualified for the tournament.

After scoring once and impressing in Mexico’s fourth-place finish at the 2017 Confederations Cup, the Bayer Leverkusen forward is still highly thought of in England after winning two Premier League titles with Manchester United during his five years at Old Trafford.

At 29 years of age, Hernandez is smack bang in his prime and even if West Ham don’t sign the predatory forward, surely other PL clubs will be intrigued by the news of a fairly cheap release clause.

Hernandez is a streaky forward but he’s managed to score 28 goals in 54 Bundesliga games over the past two seasons, with 39 goals in 76 games in all competitions. Not too shabby.

With Leverkusen coming off a disappointing season as they finished 12th in the Bundesliga — former boss Roger Schmidt lost his job in March and now Heiko Herrlich is in charge — despite reaching the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, perhaps this is a good time for Chicharito to move on.

West Ham certainly need one thing Hernandez can provide: goals.

Slaven Bilic‘s side struggled mightily to an 11th place finish in the PL last season and without regular striker Andy Carroll for most of the campaign due to injury, they scored just 47 goals in 38 games.

With talented wide-men at the London Stadium in Michail Antonio, Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini pulling the strings, you would expect plenty of quality deliveries for Carroll and Hernandez to feed off. That old-fashioned little and large partnership could prove fruitful for the Hammers and Hernandez would be a regular starter as they look to push once again for a spot in Europe as they settle at their impressive new home in east London.

This move would be a good fit all around, it would seem.

Report: Chicharito-to-MLS in doubt due to contract demands

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While Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has the feel of the player most clearly destined to play in MLS since Thierry Henry, we might have to wait a little while longer before the 28-year-old Mexican international ditches Europe in favor of a return to North America.

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According to a report from ESPN FC on Thursday, Hernandez is seeking an annual salary “way north of $10 million,” which would shatter the current record contract for an MLS player (Kaka — $7.2 million per year).

Hernandez has one more season left on his contract with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. During the summer of 2018 he’ll be available for any club in the world to sign on a free transfer. With Los Angeles FC, the team Hernandez has reportedly been negotiating with for months now, set to debut in MLS in March 2018, chances are they’d like the centerpiece of their squad (and the largest annual investment in MLS history) to be involved on opening day, thus a fee will be required, very likely pushing the club’s total investment (salary plus fee) into the neighborhood of $50 million.

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You can see pretty quickly why LAFC might balk at such demands.

With that said, 1) LAFC shouldn’t be surprised by this recent development, given Hernandez’s otherworldly allure within the LA market; 2) to piggyback on no. 1, a player should be paid every cent he’s worth to the club, on and off the field, and there might not be a player in the entire world (this side Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) who’d make LAFC a bigger hit in LA from day one.

Report: Bayern Munich, Alexis Sanchez talk money

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German publication Bild claims that Bayern Munich has already spoken with Alexis Sanchez, exchanging salary numbers ahead of a hopeful summer move.

Bayern was reported to have scouted Sanchez and Kyle Walker in late April, but Arsene Wenger has been adamant that Arsenal and Sanchez will reach a new agreement.

The report also notes that Sanchez shares representation with fellow Chilean and current Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal, and claims that Bayern Munich will add two other players in a youth movement.

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One of those is ex-Arsenal player Serge Gnabry, who starred at the Olympics for Germany’s U-23 side and has 10 goals and two assists for Werder Bremen this season.

Gnabry, 21, is a target along with 22-year-old Leon Goretzka (Schalke) and 20-year-old Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen). Goretkza has five goals in the Bundesliga and three more in the Europa League, while Brandt is well-known in these spaces as a oft-mentioned Liverpool target.