Jonas Hofmann provided an assist on his first Bundesliga appearance for Bayer Leverkusen. - © Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images
Jonas Hofmann provided an assist on his first Bundesliga appearance for Bayer Leverkusen. - © Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Jonas Hofmann set for Gladbach return as Bayer Leverkusen career starts with promise


So soon after parting ways with Borussia Mönchengladbach, midfield maestro Jonas Hofmann is eyeing an emotional return to his former surroundings as a Bayer Leverkusen player.

With the teams set to meet in a mouthwatering Matchday 2 duel at the always atmospheric Borussia-Park this weekend, Hofmann will grace the pitch where he was rightly hailed a hero in his seven-and-a-half seasons with the Foals. The 31-year-old – who penned a four-year deal with Leverkusen in early July – will no doubt enjoy a warm, pre-kick off welcome at his former home on Saturday.

However, once the action gets underway, the attacker’s 48 goals and 51 assists in 214 games across all competitions for Gladbach will mean little to the home fans who will be baying for three points against their Rhineland derby rivals.

Hoffmann signed a deal until 30 June 2027 with Leverkusen last July. - Getty Images

Arriving at Die Fohlen during the mid-point of the 2015/16 season, Hofmann excelled after never quite fitting in at Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund. So often a game-changing presence for Gladbach, the highly versatile midfielder played his way into the Germany senior side under former coach Joachim Löw. A reliable, attack-minded presence and set-piece specialist, Hofmann’s attention was caught by a former on-field opponent in Xabi Alonso this summer, and the prospect of a new adventure at Leverkusen under the Spanish tactician proved too tempting to turn down for the club’s new No.7.

“There were several [reasons I chose to join Bayer]: firstly because of European football, that’s a huge draw for me, especially given that I play for the national team,” Hofmann told “It’s important to play in Europe and that possibility was there at Leverkusen.

Watch: Leverkusen and Hofmann enjoy the perfect start to 2023/24

“The conversations I had with [managing director for sports] Simon Rolfes, and the coach as well, were really good. They were very authentic and they convinced me to take the step,” the Heidelberg native added. “Having a look at the team ahead of a move too, there was huge potential, huge talent.

"The new arrivals bring a good mix of young and old, they have experience, and can lead the team a bit. All of that together, as well as my own personal motivation to see something different, experience something new, to go in a new direction, get to know new people. I know this can sometimes sound like a cliche, but everyone who has been in a situation like this knows that it is a huge challenge.”

After coming through the youth ranks at Hoffenheim, Hofmann went on to gain Bundesliga experience at Dortmund, Mainz and Gladbach, amassing 233 appearances in Germany’s top flight. Last weekend represented his first in the division for Leverkusen and things worked out just right for the one-time Germany youth international.

A starring Matchday 1 role against RB Leipzig in an exciting, attacking line-up that included the unmistakable talent of Florian Wirtz and formidable new forward Victor Boniface made it seem like Hofmann had long belonged at Leverkusen. His assist from a corner-kick led to Jonathan Tah scoring in an eventual 3-2 win for Bayer, a result against the recent Sueprcup winners that laid down an early indication of Bayer’s aspirations this term.

Watch: All of Hofmann's goals and assists for Gladbach last season

Having previously scored in his new side’s 8-0 demolition of Teutonia Ottensen in the DFB Cup first round, Hofmann already has a clear idea of where coach Alonso sees him fitting in. “Of course [he wants me] in an attacking position; that’s clear, because of the last three or four seasons when my attacking statistics were high,” Hofmann said. “They are my strengths. I can, however, play on the right of a five if I need to, I have done that for the national team. The focus [here] is more of an attacking one though.”

Hofmann once lined out against Alonso during the Spaniard’s successful playing spell at Bayern Munich and both took great pleasure in reconnecting ahead of the former’s switch to his new club. “You get to the stage where you have a Facetime call with him: Xabi Alonso sitting in front of you – it’s inspirational and cool because I knew him from my time when I was a bit younger,” Hofmann enthused.

“I even played against him. I also think the football he played was inspiring. It’s just a really cool thing when he’s sitting in front of you; [you imagine] he could be your coach and you’re talking about football. The type of conversation we had, about our aims, plans, where he saw me, it was inspiring.”

Bayer coach Xabi Alonso played a big role in enticing Hofmann to Leverkusen. - IMAGO/Christopher Neundorf/IMAGO/Kirchner-Media

After that chat, an agreement was reached and Leverkusen had an inspiring new attacker to join the likes of fellow arrivals Boniface, Arthur, Alejandro Grimaldo, Granit Xhaka and, most recently, Josip Stanisic, brought in from Bayern on loan. The 2023/24 signs are already looking good for a Die Werkself side that were in the relegation zone until Alonso’s arrival last October. Under the Basque’s leadership, Bayer secured a sixth-placed finish last term, the reward for which was a spot in this season’s UEFA Europa League group stage.

Targeting European success at club level is one of several challenges Hofmann is relishing this season. Another is the possibility of featuring at UEFA Euro 2024, which is being held in Germany next June and July. “Of course I wouldn’t say no [to playing at the tournament with new clubmate Wirtz]!,” Hofmann said when asked about that possibility.

Hofmann featured at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Germany. - Getty Images

“My international career has really taken off under [coach] Hansi Flick; I think I have started 13 from the 15 games under him and come on in the other two,” the player who has scored four times in 21 senior international appearance said. “That makes me really grateful that he trusts me like that. I always make sure I give my all when I’m playing for my national team to repay the trust he has in me.

Acknowledging that, “There’s still a long way to go,” before the Euross, Hofmann insists, “The main aim now is to make sure we perform here for Leverkusen.” Next up for Hofmann on that journey is a stop-off at former club Gladbach on Saturday.