Heung Min Son, Robbie Kruse and Giulio Donati all spoke in glowing terms about their new club, but especially its performance last season, when a third-place finish brought UEFA Champions League football back to the BayArena after a one-year absence.
Right decision for Son
“It was really important for me to join a club that was playing in Europe,” said South Korean international Son to the assembled journalists. “I spoke to a lot of clubs but I got the feeling that Bayer really wanted me and that was my reason for deciding to deciding to come here."
The 21-year-old enjoyed a very successful campaign with Hamburger SV in 2012/13, scoring ten goals as well as providing two. On the back of some stunning performances, readers of bundesliga.com also voted him their choice to be top scorer in the coming Bundesliga season.
Kruse: ‘An honour’
For Australian international Kruse, moving to the Werkself is certainly an advancement from playing for relegated Fortuna Düsseldorf, but the 24-year-old insists he is ready for the challenge. “Leverkusen are a great club and coming here was the next step for me," Kruse said. "There are a lot of great players here and there's massive competition for places. I’ll have to work hard, and if I get my chance I’ll try and help the team.”
Above all, the former Melbourne Victory man is looking to be able to test himself at the very highest level of club football. “I feel I had a really good progression at Fortuna Düsseldorf but I’m looking forward to playing in the Champions League. It’s an honour for me to be here.”
Donati attracted by the Bundesliga
Full-back Donati has no experience of Germany’s top flight compared to his two new team-mates, but the Italian Under-21 international, signed from FC Internazionale Milano, is ready to make up for lost time. “In the last few seasons, the Bundesliga’s popularity has really grown in Italy and that's largely because of how German teams have performed in Europe. I’m really happy to be playing in the Bundesliga,” said the 23-year-old.
Leverkusen were 2-0 winners over Belgian side KV Mechelen in their latest pre-season friendly on Wednesday. They have one more schedule friendly against Dutch Eredivisie side Vitesse, before the competitive season begins with a trip to SV Lippstadt 08 in the first round of the DFB Cup. Sami Hyypiä’s men kick off their league campaign at home to SC Freiburg on 10 August.