Bayer Leverkusen have moved in the transfer window to compensate for the enforced injury absence of striker Victor Boniface by signing Spanish striker Borja Iglesias on an initial loan from La Liga side Real Betis. Here we take a closer look at the man brought in to boost Xabi Alonso’s attacking options.
31-year-old Iglesias has spent his entire career thus far in his homeland after starting out with his home town club Compostela at the age of ten. He moved on to Valencia and Villarreal where he made his debut in the Tercera division in 2012 to kick-off his professional career.
In 2013 he joined Celta Vigo and was placed in the B team competing in the Segunda division and he hit the goal trail scoring 73 goals in 144 appearances. He made just one appearance however for Celta’s first-team and was loaned to fellow second tier side Real Zaragoza for a year. In Aragon, he scored an impressive 22 goals in 39 matches for Los Blanquillos.
The 2018/19 season saw Espanyol sign him for €10 million but after just one season and 17 goals, Real Betis opted to pay his €28 million release clause to take him to the Estadio Benito Villamarín. Since then he has scored 39 goals for the club in 142 and made his Spanish international debut in 2022 in a Nations Cup match against Switzerland.
At 1m 87 he is a tall striker, but he is not just your typical target man. He is excellent at playing with his back to goal and playing in other players, which will suit Xabi Alonso’s rapid passing style. He has very good spatial awareness, and is also a threat with crosses played into the box. He also has the ability to work space for himself in the box for a shot, which with teams defending deep en masse against Leverkusen, could be an asset.
He has struggled for game time this season (four starts) with Ayoze Perez, Brazilians Willian José and Luis Henrique as well as Assane Diao ahead of him in coach Manuel Pellegrini’s plans. Bayer Leverkusen have secured an initial loan until the end of the season with a reported option-to-buy at the end of the campaign for around €8 million.
He is mentally strong and doesn’t let missed chances affect his game. Nicknamed ‘Panda’ he is not your typical footballer speaking out in support of Black Lives Matters and against homophobia and he was one of the first footballers to come out and refuse to represent Spain following the controversy of Federation president Luis Rubiales non-consensually kissing Jennifer Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup.
What they’re saying:
Simon Rolfes (Sporting director): “With his footballing profile, Borja Iglesias can fill the gap caused by Victor’s absence. He is physically strong, holds a lot of balls, is confident in combinations, doesn’t shy away from a tackle and is a good goal finisher. With him we have the necessary attack option to continue our successful path.”
Borja Iglesias: “This is really a fantastic challenge for me. The team is currently causing a sensation in Spain, many people there are looking at the team, which is currently making a really impressive impression. I am excited about the opportunity to be a part of it and will do everything I can to ensure the success of this team.”