Kevin Volland wheeling away in celebration has been a common occurrence this season, 10 times in fact, making the 25-year-old the joint-leading German goalscorer in the Bundesliga. Those 10 strikes have also taken the Bayer Leverkusen striker to 49 career Bundesliga goals - given the form he and Die Werkself are in, the milestone 50 could be reached this weekend in Freiburg.

Playing a starring role in his side's recent renaissance, Volland may also be giving national coach Joachim Löw some food for thought ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Following last season's disappointing 12th-place finish, Leverkusen fans may have been a little anxious when their side kicked off the current campaign with two defeats and a draw. However, Volland soon put their fears to rest by netting four goals in successive home wins over Freiburg and Hamburg, and the red-hot striker has continued to go from strength to strength as Die Werkself have soared up the table from 14th in the space of just three months.

"There are always phases like this in sport," Volland said of his good form after a late winner against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 13. "Sometimes you're not thinking too much about scoring goals, but you have a clear head, you're confident, and the ball just goes in. We won an incredibly tough match against Eintracht after striking at a decisive moment in the second half. I hit the ball really well for my goal."  

Watch: Volland's 76th-minute strike made the difference for Leverkusen against the Eagles

Leverkusen's never-say-die attitude has been noteworthy this season, with the club coming from behind on no fewer than five occasions, rescuing draws against Schalke, RB Leipzig and Hannover and beating Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne.

"It's a characteristic of our team to always fight back," Volland said after the Cologne win. "We all fight for one another, and guys like Leon Bailey and Julian Brandt work really hard defensively. That doesn't happen by accident, it's what the coach Heiko Herrlich demands of us. We also have a lot of individual quality in the squad." 

With 10 goals in 19 Bundesliga appearances this season, Volland has already improved on his six-goal haul from last term, when a series of injury niggles restricted him to just 16 starts, and is closing on on his all-time best return of 11 with Hoffenheim in 2013/14. The 25-year-old has also stepped out of Chicharito's shadow since the Mexico striker joined West Ham this summer, becoming the de facto leader of Leverkusen's attack and starting every game so far.  

Chicharito (l.) scored 39 goals in all competitions for Leverkusen, while Volland (r.) is now up to 19. © gettyimages / Alex Grimm / Staff

"Kevin works incredibly hard for the team," Herrlich enthused after the win in Frankfurt. "He's already proven in recent years that he can score goals, but it's his work ethic that makes him so important to the team."

Germany coach Jogi Löw will no doubt be keeping a close eye on Volland as he continues to prepare for his side's World Cup title defence in Russia next summer. While the 57-year-old has an incredible wealth of talent at his disposal, there aren't too many genuine strikers in the mix, and if Volland can keep up his rich vein of form he may find himself vying with Lars Stindl, Mario Gomez and Sandro Wagner for a place in the squad alongside Timo Werner.

The versatile Volland has the advantage of being able to lead the line or play out wide in a three-man attack, as he has already demonstrated to great effect this season. He started on the right in the 5-1 thrashing of Gladbach and on the left against Frankfurt, netting in both games. As a left-footed striker he also presents a slightly different profile to the right-footed trio of Stindl, Gomez and Wagner, and could even emerge as the natural successor to Lukas Podolski

Volland (r.) has made 10 appearances for Germany, scoring his only senior international goal in a FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier against San Marino in November 2016. © imago / imago/MIS

Volland has been on the fringes of the national side for several years, making his debut in a friendly against Poland just before the 2014 World Cup, and featuring in a handful of qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. He has yet to make the cut for a major tournament, though, and is understandably modest about his chances of going to Russia.

"There are so many good players in that position, like Timo Werner and Lars Stindl," he insisted. "They've been doing an outstanding job."

The fact remains, though, that Volland is currently scoring as well as all of them, and if his superb form continues it could carry him to the biggest stage of them all.

Andy Smith

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