30.12.2021Bayer 04

Half-term report: Update on loanees and former players

Twelve players left the Werkself last summer, four of them on loan. Their new clubs stretch from Great Britain to the Mediterranean, from Scandinavia to the Black Sea. Just before the end of the year, we take a look at the first six months in new shirts for Wendell, Drago, the Bender brothers and Co.

Leon Bailey (Aston Villa/England)

The Jamaican left the Werkself in the summer after four and a half years. His objective: the Premier League. However, he has suffered a number of minor injuries at Aston Villa and the 24-year-old has only made nine league appearances to date (one goal, two assists). His coach since the middle of November is Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool legend already knew the former Leverkusen player from last season: Leon Bailey played against Rangers in the Europa League Round of 16 first leg tie in March 2020 – when the Scottish side were being coached by Gerrard. Results have picked up since the arrival of the new coach with the team from Birmingham clocking up four out of seven wins this season in seven games under the new boss. Villa have recently been hit by coronavirus with two out of the last three league games postponed.

Demarai Gray (Everton/England)

Like his former Leverkusen teammate, Demarai Gray has also made his way to the Premier League. Instead of living in his birthplace of Birmingham, where Leon Bailey is at home, the 25-year-old is now at home in Liverpool. His employer: Everton. Gray was in the Werkself squad from January to July of this year and he made ten Bundesliga appearances (one goal, two assists). The winger is now doing better back in England: The former Leverkusen player is the top scorer and provider for the Toffees with five goals and two assists in 16 Premier League games and his club is currently in the bottom half of the table in fifteenth position.


Wendell (FC Porto/Portugal)

The former Bayer 04 crowd favourite Wendell is enjoying sunnier climes. After seven years and 186 Bundesliga appearances for the Black and Reds, the likeable left-back joined Porto in the summer. The Brazilian and his teammates are battling to win the Portuguese Primeira Liga this term. Wendell has missed a number of games due to a knee injury and has currently made eight appearances for the Portuguese side who the Werkself could play in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Aleksandar Dragovic (Red Star Belgrade/Serbia)

The ball-winning jester was at Bayer 04 for five years. Last summer, the central defender finally decided to move on to his "favourite childhood club", Red Star Belgrade. Drago quickly established himself as a first choice with the top Serbian side and he has scored three goals in his 18 league appearances to date. The double winners are currently second in the table five points behind league leaders and city rivals Partizan. As with Wendell and Porto, Aleksandar Dragovic and Red Star Belgrade could meet the Werkself in the Round of 16 of the Europa League: The Serbs finished top of Group F – the former Leverkusen player was on the pitch for 90 minutes in five of the six games. The 30-year-old missed the sixth match due to a coronavirus infection.

Tin Jedvaj (Lokomotive Moscow/Russia)

Tin Jedvaj was under the Bayer Cross for longer than his former teammate Dragovic. The versatile defender joined the Werkself on loan in 2014 from AS Roma and made the permanent move a year later. The Croat made 109 appearances (five goals, four assists) for the Black and Reds and he also had a successful season on loan at Bundesliga rivals FC Augsburg in 2019/20. He joined Lokomotive Moscow in the summer. Like Dragovic, Jedvaj played the full 90 minutes in five of the six Europa League group matches for the club from the Russian capital. He has played in 11 out of a possible 18 games in the league (one goal). The former long-term Leverkusen player missed the other games due to injury or suspension. Lokomotive go into the New Year sixth in the Premier Liga but they are just three points adrift from a Europa League qualification slot.


Lars and Sven Bender (TSV Brannenburg)

Lars and Sven Bender opted for a somewhat different change in comparison to the previously mentioned former players. The always reliable twins ended their careers in professional football and returned to the Bavarian club of their youth, TSV Brannenburg. The Bayer 04 honorary captain Lars and his brother Sven are now in the ninth tier of German football rather than the Bundesliga. The 32-year-olds are enjoying success at their new club: TSV are in second place ahead of the winter break level on points with league leaders SV Söchtenau-Krottenmühl. Sven has played in 13 of 14 games and Lars has made eight appearances.

Lennart Grill (SK Brann Bergen/Norway, on loan)

The 22-year-old goalkeeper left Germany for Norway last summer to gain match practice. The loan at SK Brann Bergen lasted for six months. Lennart Grill made 13 appearances for the top-flight side during which the relegation threatened team only suffered three defeats and were able to reach the play-offs. However, Brann Bergen lost 8-7 on penalties in the dramatic decider against FK Jerv. The season in Norway traditionally ends at the end of the calendar year and Grill has now returned to Leverkusen for the start of preparations for the second half of the Bundesliga season.


Joel Pohjanpalo (Caykur Rizespor/Turkey, on loan)

The Finland international is on loan until the summer. The 27-year-old is currently playing up front for the Turkish top-flight club Caykur Rizespor – and with success. The loanee from Leverkusen is the top goalscorer for Rizespor at the moment with five goals in 14 games. Joel Pohjanpalo scored a brace against top club Galatasaray. The Finn and his team from the north-east of Turkey are seventeenth in the Super Lig of 20 clubs and are in the middle of a relegation battle. Hopes of avoiding the drop at the end of the season also rely on the Leverkusen loanee at the Black Sea.

Mitchell Weiser (Werder Bremen, on loan)

The right-back is the only player to leave the Werkself in the summer to remain in German professional football. Mitchell Weiser has dropped down a division joining Werder Bremen on loan. The 27-year-old, signed from Hertha Berlin in 2018, has made eleven appearances in the second division and scored one goal. At the moment, he is in self-isolation due to a coronavirus infection.

Cem Türkmen (Clermont Foot 63/France, currently on loan at Austria Lustenau/Austria)

From Germany via France to Austria: Homegrown Leverkusen player Cem Türkmen decided to make that move in the summer. Clermont Foot 63, newly promoted to the French top-flight, secured the services of the 19-year-old midfielder and then loaned him out for twelve months to FC Austria Lustenau. Türkmen has played 15 of 16 league games for the league leaders in Austria's second division.

Yannick Schlößer (FC Nürnberg II, on loan)

The second homegrown player to leave the Werkself in the summer moved on to the FC Nürnberg second team – also on loan. Yannick Schlößer has made 22 out of a possible 24 appearances in the Bavarian Regional League and the winger has scored one goal and provided four assists.


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