Leverkusen - Before the start of the season, sporting director Rudi Völler and the rest of the Bayer 04 Leverkusen management team were earnestly pondering whether Karim Bellarabi, just back from a season on loan at Eintracht Braunschweig, might productively be farmed out for a further spell elsewhere.
'An amazing player'
Instead, heading into the eighth game of the campaign, the 24-year-old attacking midfielder is firmly established as one of Bayer's key players and a freshly-baked full Germany international to boot, debuting in last Saturday's Euro 2016 qualifier away to Poland.
The disappointment of that surprise for the world champions notwithstanding, it has been a remarkable turnaround of fortunes for Bellarabi inside the space of three months - not that Roger Schmidt required anything like as long to determine his potential for immediate deployment.
“After a week at the training camp, Roger said - He's my man,” Völler happily concedes, recollecting the moment the new head coach settled the matter of the player's immediate future. Bellarabi took all of nine seconds to confirm that assessment on Matchday 1, firing Bayer in front at Borussia Dortmund with the fastest goal ever recorded in the Bundesliga. It was a rapid-fire taste of things to come and his current tally stands at three goals and four assists. An “amazing player” in Schmidt's book, he has already made himself “indispensable” in the eyes of club chairman Michael Schade.
Encouraging Germany debut
Rather than his fitness for Bundesliga purpose, the main topic of debate now was suddenly which country the Berlin native with a German mother, Moroccan father and Ghanaian stepfather would choose to represent at senior level. That, too, was swiftly resolved when Germany came calling and Bellarabi responded in the affirmative. “He's incredibly strong one-on-one and an excellent option for us up front,” national team coach Joachim Löw explained.
Named in the starting line-up against Poland, he was one of the best performers in a team evidently still suffering something of a hangover in the wake of their unprecedented summer triumph in Brazil. Bellarabi will doubtless be given further opportunities to shine for Germany - while nobody at Leverkusen is any longer even remotely of a mind to loan him out to the opposition.