Leverkusen - If this summer's transfer activities are anything to go by, Bayer 04 Leverkusen are dead serious about ridding themselves of their Vizekusen reputation in 2014/15.
In pursuit of greatness
Dubbed the eternal runners-up and also-rans, Leverkusen have invested like never before in strengthening a squad that finished fourth last season, earning a shot at a place in the UEFA Champions League via a play-off at the end of August.
The signing of Hakan Calhanoglu from Hamburger SV offers further proof that the Werkself really mean business this term. "He's the player we wanted more than anybody, and we've got him," said Leverkusen's general manager Michael Schade. "We're delighted to be able to pursue our ambitious aims together with Hakan."
Those objectives are unlikely to be fulfilled merely by another top-four finish. Instead, Leverkusen have their sights set on silverware. The signings of Josip Drmic, Wendell, Vladlen Yurchenko and Tin Jedvaj already indicated that a sustained challenge in Europe is on the agenda, but the capture of Calhanoglu is the pièce de résistance.
Boost in quality
"Thanks to his playmaking qualities and goalscoring threat, Hakan will really strengthen our side," said Leverkusen's sporting director Rudi Völler. "With him, we've gained a creative element and a player who's hard to fathom. Hakan should and will give our team an important boost in quality."
All five summer signings will be working under a new coach too, with Roger Schmidt arriving from RB Salzburg with no intention of letting the club go in any direction other than forwards. "Bayer have been successful in recent years and I have faith in [continuing that] with this team," he told the Express newspaper.
His brand of exciting, attacking football can now be practised to perfection with Calhanoglu on board. Author of 11 goals and four assists last season, the 20-year-old attacking midfielder will have Drmic, Heung-Min Son and Stefan Kießling licking their lips in anticipation of the service they can expect to receive. And that's without considering the eventual return of Australian international Robbie Kruse from injury.
And with Yurchenko and Jedvaj also predominantly attack-minded figures, there should not be a dull moment at the BayArena this season. "We want to enchant the fans with our attacking football, and that's exactly why I am here," Schmidt said upon arriving in Leverkusen. "I feel like I'm in exactly the right place."