Specific recruitment and three returnees
In addition to Niklas Lomb (end of loan, Preußen Münster) and Joel Pohjanpalo (end of loan, Fortuna Düsseldorf), Danny Da Costa returns to Leverkusen after four years at FC Ingolstadt thanks to a buy back option. The Werkself recruit for specific positions which sees the arrival of Kevin Volland (TSG Hoffenheim), Julian Baumgartlinger (Mainz 05), Aleksandar Dragovic (Dynamo Kiev) and Ramazan Özcan (FC Ingolstadt). And Kai Havertz moves up from the youth section to the first team squad.
New kit supplier – After ten years working with Adidas, Bayer 04 opened up a new partnership in the summer of 2016 with kit supplier JAKO. The first JAKO home shirt impressed with some very original details: That includes 11 stripes on the chest, which symbolise the motto 'We are Team', the Leverkusen skyline on the back, plus a QR code that turns the shirt into an interactive special for the fans.
Regulation win at SC Hauenstein in the Cup - Bayer 04 made heavy weather of the first round tie in the DFB Cup but in the end deservedly won 2-1 with goals from Chicharito and Karim Bellarabi.
Frenetic home opener: Joel Pohjanpalo came off the bench on 72 minutes against HSV with the Werkself 1-0 down at the time. However, the young Finn had special plans for this day. First he scored the equaliser as he had done in the away game at Mönchengladbach. But that was not the end of its: He scored another two goals in added time secure a much celebrated 3-1 win.
Unbeaten in group stage for first time
Following three draws against CSKA Moscow (2-2), at Monaco (1-1) and at home to Tottenham Hotspur (0-0), which was match number 100 in the champions league for Bayer 04. That was followed on matchday four in the group stage by the emotional highlight of playing at Wembley Stadium: Around 2,000 Werkself fans with their to celebrate Kevin Kampl's winner on 65 minutes.
After another draw in Moscow (1-1) the place in the Round of 16 was already confirmed with a game to play. On the last matchday there was a convincing 3-0 home win against AS Monaco – that meant Bayer 04 were unbeaten in the Champions League group stage for the first time
Cup exit in Lotte: In spite of taking the lead twice – Kevin Volland scored on 25 and 95 minutes – and playing with a man more in extra time, Bayer 04 ended up losing on penalties to the Regional League side SF Lotte.
Youngest Bayer 04 starter: It was an exciting year for our youngster Kai Havertz: The championship win with the U17s, awarded the silver Fritz Walter medal by the DFB, since August in possession of a long-term contract with Bayer 04. And he has also gone down in the club's record books. No player has been younger on making his Bundesliga debut (in Bremen), on making his first start (against Darmstadt), scoring his first Bundesliga goal (in the second half of the season against Wolfsburg) and his first brace (last game of the season in Berlin). And he also took his A-levels at the Landrat Lucas Grammar School in Leverkusen-Opladen.
19 years and 262 days
That was Benjamin Henrichs age when he made his full international debut against San Marino in November 2016. That makes him the youngest Germany full international in the history of Bayer 04.
New signing in the winter
In the winter, Bayer 04 signed 19-year-old Leon Bailey, a quick and tricky player who has also attracted the interest of many other European clubs. The Jamaican signed a contract to 2022.
FIFA not only punishes Calhanoglu: In February the Court of Arbitration in Sport confirmed the four-month ban on Hakan Calhanoglu issued by FIFA. The Turkey international was unavailable to Bayer 04 till the end of the season. Hard punishment for the club too as it was not involved on the disputes from 2011 that led to the ban. Calhanoglu trained with the team but did not take his salary for the duration of the ban
A goal for the history books – Ahead of the game on matchday 21 between FC Augsburg and Bayer 04 it was clear: The next goal would be the 50,000th in the history of the Bundesliga. The historic goal was scored by Karim Bellarabi when he opened the scoring in the 3-1 win for the Werkself. The shirt worn by Karim in Augsburg now hangs in the German Football Museum in Dortmund.
Departure of Roger Schmidt
Bayer 04 released head coach Roger Schmidt after the painful 6-2 defeat at Borussia Dortmund. Under his leadership the Werkself qualified three times for the group stage of the Champions League. Schmidt was succeeded by Tayfun Korkut who signed a contract to the end of the season.
Knocked out by Atlético again
As in the 2014/2015 season, the Werkself's Champions League campaign came to an end against Atletico Madrid. The first leg of the Round of 16 at home ended in a 4-2 defeat. Under Tayfun Korkut team went out of the competition with their heads held high after battling to achieve a 0-0 draw in Madrid.
Fight together – win together: When the season run-in was exclusively about staying up from Bayer 04 perspective, the whole city proved to be a black and red unit. Ahead of the derby against FC Köln on matchday 33 the fans not only cheered the team on at open training but also staged an impressive display of support before the game: Some 6,000 supporters gathered on Bismarckstraße to provide a guard of honour for the team. After going 2-0 down, the Werkself fought back to earn a deserved point against FC Köln that also ensured top-flight status with a game to play. The season ended on a high with six goals scored in the last game of the season in Berlin.