Rp-online.de -LEVERKUSEN, Sardar Azmoun really gets going for the first time since moving to Bayer Leverkusen.
Actually, Sardar Azmoun was already gone. In winter, the Iranian wanted to try his luck elsewhere. A move to Olympique Marseille was in the offing, becoming more and more concrete, the fee should have been ten million euros. The French first division club already had a shirt number for the striker. Azmoun should have worn the 11. But on the last day of the open transfer window, the plans fell through, the deal fell through – and the 28-year-old’s rather unhappy relationship with Bayer Leverkusen went into the next round. Looking back, that was a blessing for the Werkself, but also for Azmoun.
Since then, the form of the national player has been pointing upwards. He provided the assist in the 3-2 draw in Mainz, scored the equalizer in the 1-1 draw in Freiburg, and opened the 4-1 firework display against Hertha BSC on Sunday with his goal to make it 1-0. Jeremie Frimpong’s congenially prepared lead was by no means his only strong move in the one-sided game. There was also the thriller in the Europa League at AS Monaco, where he came on as a substitute in the 115th minute, a little later he confidently sunk his attempt on penalties and played his part in qualifying for the round of 16. There are many phoenix-rising-from-the-ash tales in football, Azmoun appears to be adding another to the collection.
After moving to Bayer in January 2022, things didn’t go well for the striker at all. Bayer transferred 2.5 million euros for Azmoun to his former club Zenit St. Petersburg – a bargain price for the attacker, who was valued at 25 million euros at the time. Actually, the change should have been free of charge in the summer, but Zenit forced the earlier conclusion in order to generate at least a little money for its star player at the time.
In Leverkusen, illnesses and injuries kept slowing down the attacking man. Although coach Gerardo Seoane granted him a few appearances, Azmoun was not able to convince in the long term. There were certainly good approaches to be seen, especially in terms of combination football and creativity, but the fans mostly waited in vain for the Iranian’s goals and assists – and at times he miserably missed even the most promising of goals. The professional, who is revered as a folk hero in his home country, did not cause a stir, but rather off the pitch, especially with his courageous and internationally celebrated statements on the subversive protests in Iran, with which he clearly sides with women’s rights and against the mullah regime.
Azmoun tore a hamstring just before Seoane was sacked and Xabi Alonso installed as his successor. He was unfit after the World Cup in Qatar, for which he made it back just in time and lost with his home country in the group stage. It was several weeks before he offered himself as an alternative up front. Alonso finally gave him the chance after increasingly appealing training performances – and he took it. “With Sardar you can currently see that he is in good physical condition, which is also very important,” said teammate Robert Andrich. “It comes with a certain amount of self-confidence. He has now scored two goals and is happy to continue like this.”
He himself is currently in the best of moods. The Iranian is also doing well privately: he demonstratively celebrated his goal on Sunday with a thumb-sucking pose. The 28-year-old is becoming a father for the first time. “We deserved to win,” said Azmoun. “We are very happy. The three points were very important.” The hard work in training is paying off – for him, but also for the team as a whole. “It all starts there. We’re like a family and that not only helps me but everyone to play well.” He sees his personal upswing as part of the constant ups and downs in football. “I never give up. You may not have your best days for a month or two. You can’t let the bad moments get you down.” In addition, after a year he finally arrived in the Bundesliga. “The Russian league is not that strong,” emphasized the attacker. “It’s a total difference to the Bundesliga. I had to get used to it, and adapt to it. But now everything is fine – and I am very happy.”