Bayer Leverkusen are the real winners from Andre Schurrle’s transfer to Chelsea

Kit Holden
Andre Schürrle 300x225 Bayer Leverkusen are the real winners from Andre Schurrles transfer to Chelsea

André Schürrle has left the club for Chelsea

Stefan Kießling was at a book signing when he found out that André Schürrle’s transfer to Chelsea had been confirmed. The big Bayer Leverkusen centre forward has released a cookery book named “Recipes for Success”, and was caught unawares when asked about his departing team mate. “Is the deal done?” was all he could reply.

The deal is very much done. And as recipes for success go, Schürrle seems to have found a good one by moving to Chelsea. The man who only three years ago was a promising hopeful at lowly overachievers Mainz 05 has joined one of the world’s most decorated managers at a club which seems unable to go twelve months without picking up some medals.

For Kießling and Leverkusen, it is naturally a loss. The former, this year’s German golden boot winner, loses his major strike partner, while the club loses a player whose talent and versatility has at times made him as valuable to them as the likes of Marco Reus or Thomas Müller are to their respective clubs.

Not only have Leverkusen lost Schürrle – an expected eventuality since his failed attempt to move to West London last summer – they have also had their plans to bring in Kevin de Bruyne as part of the deal conclusively scuppered.

His departure though, does not herald the ringing of alarm bells in Leverkusen. With de Bruyne off the table, Schürrle was only ever going to be allowed to leave once his employers had found a suitable replacement. And so they have. The club will gain €23m for Schürrle, and have immediately reinvested around half that sum in the capture of Hamburg’s Korean forward Heung-Min Son.

Son has spent the year driving Hamburg away from the relegation zone and reportedly rebuffing potential suitors from the likes of Arsenal, Dortmund and Tottenham. As an attacking midfielder-cum-forward who can play both centrally or out wide, moreover, he is as close to a direct replacement for Schürrle as Leverkusen were ever likely to get.

It is a fact which club director Wolfgang Holzhäuser was quick to appreciate, saying “Son has the perfect profile for us. He is young, has potential to develop and has strong prospects in international football.”

So important, indeed, was the arrival of Son for closing the Schürrle deal with Chelsea that Leverkusen’s club doctor Karl-Heinrich Dittmar this week flew to South Korea, where Son is currently training with the national team, to complete the medical.

It is certainly a remarkable piece of economics from Leverkusen, and one which proves beyond doubt the largely meaningless nature of transfer fees in the modern game. Leverkusen have replaced one excellent but unfulfilled talent with a different, but equally exciting one. And, if reports are to be believed, they are making around €10m while they’re at it.

So while André Schürrle may be “realising a dream” by moving to Chelsea, and his new club may be picking up one of the most promising talents in the Bundesliga at the moment, it is Leverkusen who can be considered the real winners here. The club arguably exceeded expectations this season with an unchallenged third place finish, and their experiment in effectively having two team managers in Sami Hyypiä and Sascha Lewandowski seems to have paid off thus far. Despite some losses, moreover, their transfer policy remains positively focused, with a move for Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld also on the cards.

No doubt Schürrle’s fight to win and retain a place in the Chelsea attack will be a fascinating one next season, but while we enjoy it, it may be worth keeping an eye on the fortunes of his successor and the club he leaves behind.

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