Leverkusen - While no fewer than seven players have joined Bayer 04 Leverkusen this summer, it’s the new attacking options at coach Sami Hyypiä's disposal that will have him rubbing his hands with glee.
Heung-Min Son was a major catch from Hamburger SV and nippy Australian international Robbie Kruse will provide added thrust on the wings after impressing in his debut Bundesliga campaign at Fortuna Düsseldorf. With 16 goals and seven assists between them in 2012/13, neither have been brought in merely to make up the squad numbers.
The prospect of them linking up with last season's Bundesliga top scorer in attack will be intriguing, especially as the side's tally of 65 goals in 2012/13 was already the third-highest total in the division, helping them to finish comfortably inside the UEFA Champions League places.
The departure of Andre Schürrle, who scored 11 and provided six assists in his final season, necessitated the arrival of capable reinforcements, as injury to 25-goal Kießling would have left the Werkself struggling to break teams down.
Keen to impress
Those fears have now been allayed in the form of the two new arrivals. Still just 21, Son is able to play centrally or in a wider position, and is eager to "show what I can do out on the pitch", as he said at his first press conference for the club.
Kruse also has a point to prove. He starred for struggling Fortuna last season, but establishing himself at a side set to compete in the Champions League will be no easy feat. Nevertheless, the 24-year-old is equally confident of putting his own stamp on the team: “It’s a great step for me to come here. I know there’s competition for places but I want to get better.”
Both players featured in the club’s most recent friendly outing against TSV 1860 Munich last week, and the signs were encouraging: Son started the game with Kießling up front, netting his maiden goal for the club, while Kruse impressed in the second half.
The game may have ended in a 2-1 defeat, but the new depth and quality of Hyypiä's attack certainly bodes well for the coming season.
Tobias Gonscherowski/Bernie Reeves