Football NewsBayer Leverkusen Under Xabi Alonso Close in On Bundesliga History
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Bayer Leverkusen and Xabi Alonso have been a match made in heaven as they close in on Bundesliga history.

Mastermind, architect, legend; are just but a few words Bayer Leverkusen fans used to describe Xabi Alonso.

Under his management, the club has gone from being the ‘nearly men’ of football to champions in waiting.

Scarves with ‘Deutscher Meister 2024’ (German Champions 2024) and ‘Danke Xabi’ are already being sold outside the BayArena while a huge queue of fans lined up to buy unofficial ‘champions’ t-shirts.

They have waited a long time for this moment. The club is not called ‘Leverkusen’ for no reason. It became their nickname after they missed out on the title in dramatic fashion at the end of both the 1999-2000 and 2001-2022 season.

Leverkusen depicts the team’s image as perennial runners-up. That was until Alonso walked through the gates in October 2022. After taking the club from second bottom to sixth in the Bundesliga last season, Leverkusen are 42-games unbeaten this term – and one win from their first-ever German title.

Alonso’s connection with Leverkusen’s fans only strengthened when he committed his future to the club, despite interest from LiverpoolBayern Munich and Real Madrid. But he had to earn their trust at the start.

Alonso is only 42 years old and one of his strengths is his ability to join in with training, showing his players how he wants them to pass and move and the intensity they have to play.

It is perhaps no surprise that somebody who has played under Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti has been able to make the transition from player to manager seamlessly.

Supporting Leverkusen is described as a rollercoaster with constant ups and downs. The club has been building towards this success for some time. But Alonso was the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

Alonso’s decision to commit to Leverkusen for at least another season took many by surprise, but not those closely connected to the club.

The Spaniard has spent the last 18 months telling his players that “this is the place to be”. Jumping ship would have felt like a betrayal.

Competing with the financial might of Bayern is not easy. Alonso and his backroom team made astute signings in the summer. Granit Xhaka has been a revelation since his move from Arsenal, while free transfer Alex Grimaldo has been one of the signings of the season.