The architect of Leverkusen’s rise: Simon Rolfes


At the heart of Bayer Leverkusen’s resurgence stands Simon Rolfes, the discerning director of sport whose knack for talent acquisition is undeniable. From securing talents like Florian Wirtz and Alejandro Grimaldo to appointing Xabi Alonso as coach, Rolfes has been pivotal in shaping Leverkusen’s successful trajectory.

Rolfes joined Leverkusen in 2005 as a player and, after a decade on the field, transitioned into an influential off-field role, eventually becoming the sporting director in 2018. His engineering mindset has translated well into building a robust team structure and strategy.

Under his guidance, Leverkusen has assembled a formidable squad. Signings like Exequiel Palacios and Edmond Tapsoba laid the foundation years before the team’s recent championship victory. The recruitment continued with strategic additions such as Patrik Schick, Jeremie Frimpong, Piero Hincapie, and Robert Andrich, culminating in Alonso’s appointment in 2022.

Rolfes’ approach to transfers and management is marked by a blend of calculated risk and a deep understanding of football dynamics. His response to Bayern Munich’s Uli Hoeneß’s remark about Leverkusen’s “luck” in the transfer market underscores his methodical planning and foresight in scouting and signing players.

The architect of Leverkusen's rise: Simon Rolfes alongside West Ham's Tim Steidten

The architect of Leverkusen’s rise: Simon Rolfes alongside West Ham’s Tim Steidten

His effective negotiation skills and vision have not only brought in key figures like Grimaldo but have also fostered a conducive environment for their talent to thrive, as seen in Grimaldo’s seamless integration into the team under Alonso’s Spanish-speaking leadership.

Leverkusen’s recent success is not just a stroke of luck but the result of Rolfes’ deliberate and strategic planning. With his proven track record, Leverkusen’s journey under Rolfes’ stewardship is likely to see more successes, making the club’s future prospects as exciting as its present triumphs.

Tim Steidten

Possibly most importantly for West Ham’s long-term future is Rolfes role in Tim Steidten’s rise. Steidten would have learnt much from his time at Leverkusen and his recent interview will give us Hammers fans hope that some of the success will rub off.

Whilst Rolfes deserves full credit for Alonso and the player recruitment, Steidten was there for much of it. He would have played a part in the recruitment of players and the fact that Leverkusen put him on gardening leave rather than allow him to join West Ham is telling.

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