Getting player recruitment right is one of the keys to football nowadays and Bayer Leverkusen are looking to keep their recent excellent transfer record going this summer as they search for a new right back. After their recent successes in acquiring Edmond Tapsoba and Moussa Diaby, the Werkself will be hoping their quest to find an alternative to Lars Bender proves equally as fruitful.
Missing out on Champions League qualification by a narrow of margin means that Bayer Leverkusen are looking to find the missing pieces to their puzzle this summer regardless of whether their key piece Kai Havertz leaves the Bay Arena. One position identified as needing strengthening is that of right back/ wing back with cover needed for Lars Bender.
The 31-year-old twin brother of central defender Sven is no spring chicken and injuries are starting to lessen his impact across a whole season. Last season saw the right sided defender miss around 20 matches with thigh, foot, and hamstring injuries.
With his contract expiring at the end of next season, Bender has recently hinted that retirement could be an option, giving Leverkusen even more reason to dip into the market for a new right-sided fullback. “There are thoughts in many directions, but I don’t want to go into them in detail,” Bender said recently. “Injuries create stitches in the heart. One or the other scar has also been created or torn open. Of course, you think about the consequences of them” he added cryptically.
Peter Bosz is perfectly happy with a fit Lars Bender on the right of his defensive line-up, but there is a big question mark over how often he will in fact be fit. Mitchell Weiser is the alternative in the squad at the moment, but the former Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin fullback has not fully convinced in the Dutch trainer’s preferred playing style.
Bosz requires his right fullback in his system to provide an attacking impulse- something that 26-year-old Weiser has struggled to do in his two years at the club. In 69 appearances thus far, he has only scored three times and provided four assists. In comparison to Bender, he only provides a goal or assist every 708 minutes, whereas the former does so every 411 minutes. Bender is also better defensively adding more fuel to fire calling for a newcomer to arrive.
The fact that Bayern Munich are also potentially looking for a new right back to provide cover for Benjamin Pavard could impact upon Leverkusen’s search. Both Sergiňo Dest and Max Aarons have been mentioned as possible targets for Bayer Leverkusen, but the Bavarian champions have also been strongly linked with the duo.
Either the Werkself settle for the player Bayern don’t opt for, or they look elsewhere, and there are reportedly two further alternatives being considered by Bosz and sporting director Simon Rolfes.
Benfica’s Tomás Tavares is one name in the frame. The 19-year-old moved up to the first team from Benfica B last summer and made 12 league appearances as well as seven more in Europe for the Eagles (he was in the team that played RB Leipzig in this season’s Champions League).
Technically, he looks to be exactly what Leverkusen are looking for. He is equally competent offensively as defensively, is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and able to deliver pinpoint passes and crosses
His boundless endless energy and powerful running make him a highly useful player, who provides fluidity and dynamism going forward. He is also adaptable enough to play at left back if required. Transfermarkt put his current valuation at €7.2 million.
21-year-old Brazilian Emerson de Souza is also a candidate according to reports. He is currently on loan at Betis Sevilla from parent club Barcelona until 2021, but the Catalans do have the option to curtail the loan. With Barca requiring funds this summer, the €20-25 million that his sale would bring in would be very beneficial for Barcelona.
In the past season he appeared in 33 La Liga matches scoring three goals and providing six assists. Emerson has many attributes that make him an exciting prospect with great potential. His attacking nature, runs, explosiveness in attack, physical condition and tenacious work in defence all point to a bright future.
Milan are also said to be interested, so Leverkusen will need to move quickly if they are to sign him as their preferred choice. In Edmond Tapsoba, they got their last defensive signing spot on. Leverkusen fans will be hoping any new right back is equally as effective.