Kerem Demirbay says Bayer Leverkusen are good enough to be top-four regulars. - © imago images / eu-images
Kerem Demirbay says Bayer Leverkusen are good enough to be top-four regulars. - © imago images / eu-images

Kerem Demirbay: "Bayer Leverkusen belong in the UEFA Champions League"


Kerem Dermibay has told that new club Bayer Leverkusen have the quality to make a real fist of their 2019/20 UEFA Champions League campaign, and should be aiming to qualify for the competition every season.

Demirbay, 26, got his first real taste of Champions League football with former club Hoffenheim in 2018/19, but the Sinsheim outfit finished bottom of a tough group behind Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, Lyon and Shakhtar Donetsk.

The experience has stayed with the Germany international midfielder, though, and he says he is confident Peter Bosz's Leverkusen - fresh from clinching a top-four berth on the final day of last season - can once again become Champions League regulars following a two-year absence from the competition... Hoffenheim didn't get past the groups in last season's Champions League. What has to happen for Leverkusen to be successful in the competition?

Demirbay: "It really wasn't very successful with TSG, that's true. New season, new chance, that’s what I would say now. We have the quality to dominate and win games. I'm happy to be a part of it and as I always say: We footballers, we athletes, we strive for the maximum. And the Champions League is something incredibly beautiful and that's where we belong. We also have the aspiration to play in the Champions League every year. We definitely want to progress beyond the group stage and we will see where we end up."

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (l.) had to resort to foul play to keep Demirbay (r.) in check last season. - 2018 Getty Images How can you show off your own qualities at Leverkusen?

Demirbay: "I feel most comfortable in central midfield. I don't want to go into my strengths and weaknesses now. I believe that I can do a great deal to ensure that things run very harmoniously on the pitch. That means slowing things down; playing football courageously, no matter how things stand; always stepping up in difficult situations. I can do that, and will do my part." Has Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz already told you that he will make you his designated set-piece taker?

Demirbay: "He did, yes. I work a lot on set pieces; I think I'm good at them. But in the end, it's all about maximum success for the team. If there is someone who can hit them better, then he has to do it, because it's only about the success of the team. But I hit them pretty well and I'll do that."

Watch: Remind yourselves what Leverkusen are getting in Kerem Demirbay Are you a fan of Leverkusen's style of football?

Demirbay: "Absolutely, that's why I'm here. During the talks, I learned about the playing philosophy and how the coaching team want me to play. That's offensive football, offensive defending, and brave football. And put simply: playing football - that suits me very well. That's why I'm here and I fit in well." There are high expectations of you following the transfer. How does that affect you?

Demirbay: "Of course, it's a nice confirmation of the daily work you do. But as a player you can't let it get to you. As a player, you just have to keep your feet on the ground. I don't have to do 18 tricks in 90 minutes; I do my bit, keeping it simple in certain situations. But it doesn't put pressure on me - quite the opposite. It gives me a boost, but nothing more. I'll keep my feet on the ground." On Matchday 3 you’re already up against your old boys, Hoffenheim. Was it a cheerful farewell when you left?

Demirbay: "Absolutely. I owe Hoffenheim a lot. I'm looking forward to playing against them and to seeing some old faces; it’s all still very fresh. But my club is Bayer Leverkusen now. If I find myself in front of goal five times and can put the ball in, I'll do it. It's all about success."