Leverkusen - Admir Mehmedi hasn't long been on the books at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, but the Swiss international goal-getter is already convinced he made the right decision in leaving relegated SC Freiburg earlier this summer.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 24-year-old reveals his first impressions of his new club and lays out his plans for the upcoming campaign...
bundesliga.com: Admir Mehmedi, how excited are you about your new challenge? You’ll be playing in the UEFA Champions League instead of battling relegation. What are you looking forward to the most?
Mehmedi: Of course it’s a lot nicer when you’re involved at the top and not facing a daily battle against relegation. I had a great time in Freiburg, but now I’ve taken the next step. I’m delighted to be part of such a strong side and to play in Europe.
bundesliga.com: What are your first impressions of your new club?
Mehmedi: It’s just great what I’ve seen here in my first few days. The conditions at Leverkusen are fantastic, it’s really impressive. It was definitely the right decision to come here.
bundesliga.com: Your international team-mate Josip Drmic left Leverkusen after just a year because he wasn’t able to tie down a place in attack as hoped. Did you have a word with him before you moved?
Mehmedi: Of course. We spoke about Leverkusen during the international break.
bundesliga.com: What did he have to say and what advice did he have?
Mehmedi: He wasn’t happy about his situation at the club. That’s understandable when you’re not playing regular football; but Josip didn’t have anything negative to say about Bayer 04 - on the contrary. He spoke of the perfect conditions and said the people here are great - that it’s a professional place to work. My first impressions have confirmed that.
bundesliga.com: What were the decisive factors in you moving to the Rhineland?
Mehmedi: There were other offers, but I was most taken by Bayer Leverkusen. I had and have the impression that here is the best fit for me. The club is professionally run and has big ambitions. I want to help achieve those goals.
bundesliga.com: How has Bayer head coach Roger Schmidt suggested he’ll use you?
Mehmedi: As a striker, who can affect the game.
bundesliga.com: How alien is Leverkusen’s all-out-attacking football to you?
Mehmedi: I think this style of play is a really good match for me. Pressing, attacking - I think it’ll be great for the both of us if I adapt well here.
bundesliga.com: Competition in attack is fierce right now at Leverkusen. You see yourself as a false No.9, most at home in the middle. A certain Stefan Kießling has led the line for years - a goalscorer and a fan favourite. Is your preferred position already taken? What do you bring to the table in the battle for a starting berth?
Mehmedi: I don’t see any problem there or with playing alongside Stefan Kießling. I’m very versatile. That’s why I’m not ruling one or two things out. But it’s also clear to me that there’s no guarantee that I’ll start - that’s the same everywhere. I have to put in good performances. To do that, I now have to prepare well.
bundesliga.com: What are your goals with Leverkusen for the new season?
Mehmedi: I want to develop, I haven’t reached my full potential yet. I believe that we have the right coach here to squeeze that little bit extra out of me. First off, we want to get through the play-offs and qualify for the Champions League [group stages]. Everyone wants to play in the Champions League, it’s a dream. And then it’s about mixing it up again at the top of the Bundesliga and going as far as possible in the DFB Cup. Preferably to the final.
Interview by Tobias Gonscherowski