Much like Schalke, Leverkusen’s youth movement has been enthralling to watch at times. After flirting with relegation in a weird 2016/17 campaign, Bayer 04 are very much in the hunt to return to the Champions League.
Best Player – Leon Bailey
A Jamaican being the best in any notable European club is a very rare occurrence. But the man they call ‘Chippy’ has proven to be that rare exception. Arguably Germany’s best young player this season, Bailey’s pace, vision, increasingly clinical nature and crossing ability have made him a hotly-coveted prospect. At the rate he’s going, he could be one of the best exports to come from the island, with Premier League teams anxious for his signature.
Quiet Achiever – Kai Havertz
While Bailey has deservedly gotten many of the plaudits, his 18-year-old teammate, Havertz, has been outstanding in. Only three players have more assists in the Bundesliga than Havertz (five) whose vision and athleticism has made him one of Europe hottest teenage stars.
Worst Player – Karim Bellarabi
A bit harsh to say he’s been the worst, but considering how well Bailey, Kevin Volland, and Julian Brandt have played and how it’s been a stop-start season at best for him, Bellarabi will have a lot of work to do to catch up.
Manager – Heiko Herrlich
A weird choice considering he was managing third-division side Jahn Regensburg this time last season, but he did get them promoted and since arriving at the BayArena, he’s pushed all the right buttons. Full credit to playing his young guns and getting the most ammunition out of them.
Team Grade – B+
Right alongside Dortmund as the Bundesliga’s biggest disappointment, last season’s runner-ups have looked off the pace in the league while struggling for consistency in Europe. And with Naby Keita heading for Liverpool as well as some of their other gems being pursued by Europe’s elite, things might get tougher for the East German outfit.
Best Player – Timo Werner
Contrary to Sandro Wagner’s claims, Werner is the best German striker in the game right now. A complete striker who ticks all the boxes in terms of on and off-ball quality, Werner hasn’t been affected too much by his side’s sophomore slump
Quiet Achiever – Marcel Halstenburg
The 26-year-old has ascended into one of Germany’s best left backs and made his international debut in 2017. Equally adept on both sides of the ball, he’s another star in the making that Leipzig has fashioned
Worst Performer – Emil Forsberg
Definitely not the worst player ability-wise and is arguably, but considering he led all of Europe in assists last season, the Swede has played well below expectations. He’s been alright, but if RB Leipzig is to ever challenge Bayern in the foreseeable future, alright just won’t cut it.
Manager – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Rising up the coaching ranks the last two seasons thanks to his work at Ingolstadt and Leipzig, it’s been a tougher campaign for the Austrian, having to manage three major competitions with a very young squad. Defensive frailties and Naby Keita’s indiscipline have also hurt his squad, but if Leipzig fails to make next season’s Champions League, his seat could very well start getting hot considering Leipzig’s much-publicized aspirations.
Team Grade – B-