Bayer Leverkusen's Granit

BERLIN — Granit But even he had to admit that an unbeaten domestic campaign, which ended with the lifting of the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal, was beyond what he could have asked of himself.

Xhaka was the match winner for Bayer Leverkusen in the Olympiastadion on Saturday evening. His goal from 30 yards early in the first half gave the champions a lead that they held on to even after Odilon Kossounou was shown a second yellow card just before half-time.

Former Arsenal midfielder The 31-year-old is no less valued at the club for his influence off the pitch, a key link between Xabi Alonso and the dressing room of a side that set a post-war European record by going 51 games unbeaten in all competitions.

“My expectations were very high,” Xhaka told CBS Sports of his expectations when he joined Leverkusen in early July 2023. “I'm that kind of person. Of course you can dream about it, but you have to put in a lot of work to get there.” It.

“Achieving two trophies after the first year was more than I expected. We certainly have goals for the coming years, but… [to achieve them] was more than deserved. [Saturday] was not an easy match for us after the red card. The team showed great character and mentality and to be here, to be here with my family, is something you dream about.”

The work will not stop for Xhaka, who will captain the Swiss team at the 2024 European Championship. He will return to England on Monday to complete his UEFA A Coaching License. Leverkusen's on-field coach could one day take his skills to the dugout. For the time being, however, he still sees plenty to achieve as a player.

“If I could change the time, I would start [my badges] before,” said . However, my challenges are still as a player and I will enjoy that as much as possible.”

If Xhaka needs a shout-out when he looks for a coaching role, he will certainly find one from Alonso. The Bayer Leverkusen boss made Xhaka one of his top targets during his first summer transfer window at the BayArena and was rewarded with a season of such excellence that his DFB-Pokal winner may not even be among the top three goals scored the presenter in midfield has scored. .

“He made my job a lot easier,” Alonso said of his number 34. “He played a big role in this success; without him it wouldn't have been possible.”

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