• Volland embarks on pre-season with new club Leverkusen.
  • Signed from Hoffenheim at the end of the 2015/16 season.
  • Bayer away at Gladbach on 2016/17 Matchday 1.

Kevin Volland could certainly be forgiven for thinking that his first training session with Bayer 04 Leverkusen has been long overdue.

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The Germany international signed for the Rhineland club less than a week after the final matchday of the 2015/16 season, and he admits he “couldn’t wait to get going again and get back on the pitch”.

Protracted transfer

Yet donning the Leverkusen colours has actually come much later than planned for Volland, as he revealed to “[The move] almost happened last season but I opted to stay at Hoffenheim,” he said. “In the end it was all sorted this year. The discussions with [sporting director] Rudi Völler and the coach were brilliant and I felt at home here from the very first minute.”

So what does the 23-year-old make of his new surroundings and the welcome he has been given? “Brilliant. I had a really good feeling when I signed and there’s a great atmosphere here. The club is really well organised, everybody in the squad is friendly and there are a couple of cool lads amongst them. That’s made it very easy to fit in.”

Volland (r.) enjoys a joke in training with Karim Bellarabi. © imago

Volland has immediately taken to the likes of fellow German international Karim Bellarabi, and he is excited by what the squad can do in the campaign, particularly in the UEFA Champions League, of which he will soon savour his first taste.

“I’ve always dreamed of playing in the Champions League,” he said. “The crowded fixture list will be something new and that makes the coming weeks of the pre-season even more important.”

A Chicharito admirer

His arrival having boosted the likes of Bellarabi, Admir Mehmedi and Julian Brandt, Leverkusen’s attacking options now look fearsome, and there is still the return of last season’s goalscoring sensation Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez to factor in.

Volland, for one, cannot wait for the Mexican to report for pre-season following his Copa America Centenario exploits. “I’m really looking forward to playing with him. I’ve followed his career at Real Madrid and Manchester United and last season at Bayer 04 was obviously outstanding. I’ll be happy when he’s here as he’s an incredible player.”

Volland’s first competitive outing for Bayer will be away at fifth-tier side SC Hauenstein in the first round of the DFB Cup, before Roger Schmidt’s men begin their league campaign with a tasty-looking trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Bundesliga Matchday 1.