Sign a five-year deal one week, injured for ‘several months’ the next – it has been a far from ideal start to Bundesliga life for Charles Aránguiz.
The Chilean midfielder, signed for a reported £8m by Bayer Leverkusen from Brazilian side Internacional, has been ruled out for at least six months after suffering a torn achilles tendon in training.
Aránguiz, previously a target for Leicester City, played a starring role in Chile’s recent Copa America success and his new team mates at the Bay Arena took to social media to support him in his recovery.
But while Leverkusen fans will have to wait an extended period of time to see their new signing, who was included on the bench against Lazio 24 hours before sustaining the injury, the ramifications on their Champions League ambitions look to be a more pressing concern.
ANOTHER KEY PLAYER, ANOTHER INJURY
Injuries to key players have become an unfortunate familiarity for Die Werkself during the early stages of this season’s Bundesliga.
While Aránguiz’s impact could only be measured purely by potential, Ömer Toprak’s influence was undeniable before a pre-season injury against Hellas Verona.
Toprak, a Turkish international, tore a thigh muscle just a week before the season started and looks to be out until at least Christmas.
A lack of central defensive cover was apparent during the 1-0 Champions League qualifier defeat to Lazio and the pair’s injury could threaten to derail Leverkusen’s qualifying hopes for next season’s premier European competition.
LEVERKUSEN COULD LACK SPINE – ESPECIALLY IN DEFENCE
Though they still possess one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting attacking midfield line-ups – Karim Bellarabi, Son Heung-min and Hakan Çalhanoğlu – behind reliable striker Stefan Kießling, the fresh injuries take out the side’s spine.
Aránguiz would have likely started in a holding midfield position, displacing either Lars Bender or Christoph Kramer on his return from a two-year loan deal at Monchengladbach.
While that pair are strong enough for a team of Leverkusen’s stature, the Chilean offers a different option from the double pivot. His defensive nature may not be as strong as Bender but he offers more of an outlet going forward with a stronger, more diverse passing range.
Toprak’s absence reveals a dearth of cover at centre half for Die Werkself. Kyriakos Papadopoulos, signed in the summer from Schalke 04 after a season on loan, is an oft-unreliable centre back with a history of injuries himself.
The Greek’s partner in the midweek game with Lazio was 19-year-old Jonathan Tah, a big money mover from Hamburg making his first appearance. Though a great German prodigy, his inexperience showed against the Italians.
Already without a strong spine until Christmas, any more defensive injuries could well tip Leverkusen to breaking point and leave their Champions League qualification hopes hanging in the balance.