3.02.2022Bayer 04

Rolfes: Earlier Azmoun transfer only brings pluses

The winter transfer window in Germany is over, the top match against Borussia Dortmund is coming up: 04 days before the Bundesliga away game for third-placed Werkself at the club in second (Sunday 6 February, 15.30 CET), sporting director Simon Rolfes fielded questions from the media on Wednesday. The future sporting managing director talked at a virtual press conference about a number of areas including Sardar Azmoun. We bring you the key statements from the 40-year-old.

Simon Rolfes on…

…the earlier than expected transfer of Sardar Azmoun, who joined Bayer 04 from Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg a few days ago: We made contact with Sardar two years ago. Back then, he was very keen on the idea of playing for Bayer 04 one day. Unfortunately, the situation was different last year but now we’ve been able to complete the transfer. Through their own transfer activity, Zenit were also interested in letting Sardar join us. That made it go through quicker than expected. It’s an ideal situation for us that we can start integrating him on a sporting and personal level. And he can also get used to the physical side of the game in the Bundesliga.

…a possible appearance by the Iranian in the away game in Dortmund: First of all, we’re delighted everything went right with his visa application. Sardar will arrive in Germany on Thursday afternoon. He completed a medical with us two weeks ago but we want to check everything again after his injury lay-off. So, it’s difficult to make an exact prediction. But I’m rather cautious in terms of the game against BVB. He’ll probably need some time. Nevertheless, we are convinced Sardar’s signing will be of great value to the team particularly towards the end of the season with a hopefully packed fixture list.

…the strike force of Sardar Azmoun, Patrik Schick and Lucas Alario: We’re happy to have that problem. They are all absolute top strikers and they play for their national teams. That says a lot about the development of the squad and the quality of the players. Everybody has the chance to play and show what they can do. In addition, intense competition for places in the team is motivation and I expect them all to deal with it. If everyone does it, then the probability of individual and team success increases, which we all want at the end of the day.

…speculation on a possible move for Patrik Schick to Borussia Dortmund: Comparison with other clubs is of less interest to us. For us, it’s more about what we can offer a player here and his individual and team development with us. Patrik feels really happy here and he has confirmed that again and again. Therefore, we aren’t dealing with that question.

…the Werkself defence: The fact we are where we are in the table in spite of conceding 32 goals shows the incredible quality of our attack and the very high level of our team overall. However, we have to work on getting a more even balance between attacking power and a secure defence. We have often given away easy goals late on after taking the lead or through individual errors so there is great potential for improvement. That aspect was a big part of the analysis during the winter break and we’ve continued to work on it.

…the resignation of Mönchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl plus the scale of work in management positions: It’s a demanding job that has a heavy workload. You work the whole week, including Sundays, during the transfer window and in the summer break and you also always end up taking certain things home with you. It makes its mark in the long run. We’re absolutely aware of that here at our club too. Also, there’s the angle that Rudi (sporting managing director Rudi Völler, ed.) will not be in post forever so we wanted to sort things out on the sporting side as soon as possible. We worked on that strategic question early on with Rudi and, above all, with our CEO Fernando Carro. I think we’ve been able to spread the load on a number of shoulders on the sporting area with Thomas Eichin (head of the Performance Centre, ed.), Tim Steidten (head of squad planning and scouting, ed.) and Keld Bordinggaard (head of the coaching academy, ed.). I hope Max will get some space so he can recharge his batteries.

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