Bayer Leverkusen

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Transfer rumor roundup: Many circle around Real Madrid

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Given the major buys of Real Madrid this summer, it’s no surprise that clubs are trying to take advantage of La Liga’s giants need to sell talent.

While Gareth Bale‘s future is the target of many transfer reports, there are many other pieces destined to move away from the Bernabeu.

Real has been tempting Financial Fair Player this summer, backing up the armored cars to the banks of Chelsea (Eden Hazard), Eintracht Frankfurt (Luka Jovic), and Eder Militao (Porto) amongst others.

AS says that AC Milan is asking about Dani Ceballos, Mariano Díaz and Martin Ødegaard.

The 25-year-old Diaz cost Madrid more than $22 million to buy back from Lyon last summer after an 18-goal Ligue 1 season in his only season away from Real. He scored three times in limited minutes last season, and has said he wants to prove himself at Real despite a link to Fenerbahce.

Odegaard’s recruitment was an exhaustive journey that ultimately landed him at Real. Now 20 with 18 Norway caps, Odegaard has made just one senior appearance for Real since choosing the Madrid side after his time at Stromsgodset. He posted eight goals and 11 assists for Vitesse in the Eredivisie last season.

Ceballos turns 23 in August, and scored a career-high three goals this season. His best position is unclear, but the six-times capped Spanish international has a Champions League crown and a U-21 EURO Player of the Tournament award.

The trio could earn Real somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million, though, and Ceballos has been linked with Spurs while Odegaard linked with another loan (Bayer Leverkusen, another step in his progression).

Real is said to be willing to give Spurs a good fee, $57 million, and Ceballos in exchange for Christian Eriksen. That would not help the FFP argument, but would make a certain amount of sense to Tottenham should they value Ceballos.

Eriksen posted eight goals and 12 assists in Premier League play, adding two and four in the Champions League. He won’t turn 28 until February.

PSG sells French teen Moussa Diaby to Bayer Leverkusen

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Paris Saint-Germain confirmed Friday the departure of 19-year-old Moussa Diaby on a permanent transfer to German side Bayer Leverkusen.

According to a report by German publication Kicker, the sale price is in the range of $16 million, with Diaby heading into the final year of his contract at the French club. He signs a five-year deal at the German side, Bayer confirmed.

Despite his young age, Diaby racked up 25 league appearances for the PSG senior side, mostly off the bench as he collected just over 1,100 minutes. The winger scored two goals and assisted six in the 2018/19 league campaign.

The teenager will look to help replace 23-year-old Julian Brandt who departed for Borussia Dortmund this summer after a seven-goal and 14-assist Bundesliga campaign. “It’s an impressive quota at a top international club like PSG,” said Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes of Diaby’s resume. “He’s one of the biggest French prospects who has the best conditions here in Leverkusen to develop further into an absolute top player.”

Diaby was in the starting lineup for the French side in the Round of 16 loss to the United States in the 2019 U-20 World Cup, tabbing an assist during the match. He is one of a few young players set to leave PSG this summer, with United States international Timothy Weah also reportedly being shopped by the French club. Weah was on the opposite end of the field in that U-20 game, playing for the U.S. side.

Snow denies Hannover’s Haraguchi open goal in 3-2 loss

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A wild 3-2 game in the driving snow saw Bayer Leverkusen pick up a critical three points in the battle for a Champions League place, but it didn’t come without some luck.

Well, a lot of luck.

Thanks to the significant snowfall, Hannover was denied a wide-open goal in the 33rd minute. Goalkeeper Michael Esser pumped the ball forward, straight to Japan international Genki Haraguchi streaking behind his defender. Bayer goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky came off his line to challenge, but Haraguchi rounded him easily and punched the ball towards the open net.

Then a funny thing happened. The significant snow buildup slowed the ball as it raced toward the net, stopping it inches before crossing the goal line. Bayer defender Jonathan Tah was able to collect the stopped ball and clear it off the line, preventing Hannover from breaking into the scoreline.

Snow denies Hannover 96 goal | 2019 Bundesliga Highlights (VIDEO)

Haraguchi looks certain to score but the snow literally stopped Hannover 96’s ball from going in the empty net.

The weather continued to affect the game even after that. It snowed so much that the game had to be stopped eight minutes later so the grounds crew could clear enough to see the lines.

While Hannover would eventually draw back level at 2-2, the visitors won it late as Kai Haverts would deliver Bayer all three points. That drew them within four of Borussia Monchengladbach in the race for the final Champions League place, while Hannover remains in a relegation position in 17th, five back of 16th-placed Stuttgart.

Dortmund holds off Leverkusen to take three-point Bundesliga lead

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Borussia Dortmund restored its three-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table, although it wasn’t easy at times as they held firm amid a worrisome finish to earn a 3-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen at Westfalenstadion. English youngster Jadon Sancho was the star, assisting the opener and scoring Dortmund’s second in a fabulous attacking display.

Dortmund scored its three goals on just four shots on target as Leverkusen held a whopping 67% possession throughout the match. It took a half-hour for the home side to open the scoring, but once they did, it sparked a three-goal flurry in 10 minutes.

It started when 19-year-old French defender Dan-Axel Zagadou scored his first goal of the season on 30 minutes, bundling the ball over the line on the doorstep after the 18-year-old Sancho got his head to a corner delivery and touched it across the face of goal. The teenage connection together adds up to just 37 years of age, a bright burst of youth in the Dortmund squad.

Leverkusen pulled back level just seven minutes later, as Kevin Volland found the near post with a low shot from distance that Roman Burki will want back, somehow unable to reach the ball with a dive despite the distance and relative lack of pace on the effort.

Sancho would put Dortmund right back into the lead, however, leg-whipping a fabulous volley inside the far post. It came off a delivery from Abdou Diallo from the left flank that Dortmund repeatedly opened up.

The second saw Leverkusen look to find a second equalizer while Dortmund sat back and picked its spots. Mario Gotze pounced on a deflected clear at the top of the box, and his 60th minute rifle saw the home side go 3-1 up. That was a critical goal, because the visitors would not go away.

Jonathan Tah made a game of it with 15 minutes remaining, delivering a powerful bullet header at the end of a free-kick to pull Leverkusen back within one. That was the final goal of the match, and the final chance as well as the Dortmund defense locked things up. While the visitors scored twice, the Dortmund back line still performed well overall, particularly in one-on-one situations. Leverkusen completed just eight of its 25 attempted take-ons, with particular difficulty on its right flank against Diallo and Raphiel Guerrero, who together completed seven tackles on seven attempts.

American attacker Christian Pulisic did not even make the Dortmund bench, injured and missing the last two matches now as he nears the end of his time in Germany.

Youngsters Havertz, Brandt leading Leverkusen revival

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BERLIN (AP) Two young German national team players are leading Bayer Leverkusen’s revival under new coach Peter Bosz.

Kai Havertz, still only 19, has made himself an indispensable part of the squad and is getting better with each game, while 22-year-old Julian Brandt produced a man-of-the-match performance against Mainz on Friday.

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Brandt, who had already been entrusted with the No. 10 jersey by Germany coach Joachim Loew following Mesut Ozil’s premature retirement, showed he is determined to keep it after scoring two goals and setting up two more in Leverkusen’s 5-1 win.

“If a No. 10 is needed and the coach thinks we don’t have any in the squad, then I think I have the quality for it,” Brandt said.

Havertz, his midfield partner and the only player to have started every league game for Leverkusen this season, scored his eighth goal of the season against Mainz and is displaying a maturity well beyond his years.

Havertz has already scored more goals than in the previous two seasons since he first broke into the senior team.

The ambidextrous midfielder can play all across midfield, winning tackles in defense, switching play and launching attacks with his quick eye for movement, coupled with his anticipation and then precision when delivering the final pass. Havertz has been involved in 17 goals in his 27 games in all competitions this season.

Havertz’s importance to Leverkusen was underlined by the club’s concern over the hip injury he picked up in the 3-1 win over Bayern Munich on Feb. 2. He missed the German Cup loss to second-division club Heidenheim three days later, but the injury was not as serious an initially feared and he returned to start in Mainz to help Leverkusen claim its third straight win.

Bosz, a former Borussia Dortmund coach, took over from Heiko Herrlich in time for the second half of the season. He appears to have stabilized the team after an inconsistent first half. The Dutch coach has given free rein to both Brandt and Havertz in the center and the decision has paid off with marked improvement since the league resumed.

Brandt had been playing on the wing under Herrlich.

“When you play on the wing you’re tied to the position and don’t have as much room,” Brandt said. “So now I can run around with freedom. I feel very comfortable in the position.”

Bosz’s reasoning for Brandt’s position switch is simple.

“He is a very good player and you have to give good players the ball. He was outstanding today and always there at the right time,” Bosz said after the win in Mainz, where Brandt scored twice in a game for the first time.

Back on track in the Bundesliga – Leverkusen is up to sixth, good enough for Europa League qualification, five points behind Leipzig in the last place for Champions League qualification – Bosz’s team next travels to Russia to face Krasnodar in the Europa League.

Bosz previously led Ajax to the Europa League final in 2017.

“We don’t want to go at it like in the German Cup,” Brandt said, referring to the slip-up in Heidenheim. “We’ve learned from that.”

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