Can Brazilian star Renato Augusto pack a punch for Bayer?
You can say one thing about Leverkusen -- they're young. Excluding 34-year-old midfielder Bernd Schneider, who's out indefinitely with a back injury, the average age of the team is 23. The young guns will be called upon to fill the gaps left behind by forward Sergei Barbarez and defensive mainstay Carsten Ramelow, both of whom retired.
One piece of good news is that the squad has experience beyond its years. Gonzalo Castro, Tranquillo Barnetta, Stefan Kiessling and Simon Rolfes have all played several seasons in the first and second divisions. Leverkusen also landed a big-name star in Brazilian playmaker Renato Augusto -- for an estimated 6 million euros.
So there's every reason to expect Bayer to be under the top five. Of course, much the same was true in the past couple of seasons, and Leverkusen consistently underachieved. Should the same be the case in 2008-09, Sporting Director Rudi Voeller could begin to feel the heat.
Major arrivals: Renato Augusto, Constant Djakpa, Patrick Helmes Major departures: Paul Freier, Carsten Ramelow, Sergei Barbarez