Wolfsburg amid race to be Germany’s No.2

Berlin, Oct 22 (IANS) For some it is a sign of hope that the 2015 German Cup winner VfL Wolfsburg will soon return to the company that supplied its kit in 2009, the year when the club won its first, and latest, German Championship and qualified for the Champions League.

From next summer, the Nike swoosh will adorn Wolfsburg’s jerseys. For the club, owned by German car manufacturer Volkswagen, the deal is worth 80 million euros over 10 years, reports Xinhua.

This is still less than, for instance, German top dogs Bayern Munich who receive 60 million a year from Adidas or Borussia Dortmund, who are sponsored to the tune of 15 million euros annually by Puma. The deal, however, will put Wolfsburg, at least financially, back in the tight race to be the No.2 in German football.

Clubs like Bayer Leverkusen (Champions League participant), Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04 (both this season in the Europa League) and Borussia Moenchengladbach (Champions League) are all battling for the place immediately behind Bayern Munich.

“You have to continue to invest if you want to be successful,” Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs said.

In the 2015-16 season, Wolfsburg is unlikely to win the German Championship again nor the Champions League. However, Allofs doesn’t get tired of emphasising just how important international games like the one this Wednesday evening in the Champions League Group B against Dutch side PSV Eindhoven (2-0) are for his team to gain experience that will stand them in good stead in the battle to be the German No.2.

Having beaten Eindhoven (after a 1-0 win against Moscow), Wolfsburg now tops Group B with six points ahead of Manchester United and CSKA Moscow (after a 1-1 draw) on four points.

Despite a 2-1 win against Manchester United, Eindhoven finds itself in fourth on three points which would mean the team would be eliminated after the group phase. Only the top-2 proceed to the next round of the Champions League and the group’s third place side moves over to the Europa League.

“To win the second game was a first step to the next round, for now it was a good start,” Wolfsburg striker Max Kruse said.

Despite the loss of Kevin de Bruyne (75 million euros to Manchester City) and Ivan Perisic (16 million to Inter Milan) shortly before the start of the season, Allofs has said they “will make it into the Champions League this season again”.

Wolfsburg are trying to finish the Bundesliga season in at least third to qualify directly or in fourth for them to get a place in the Champions League qualifying round. Moreover, they are expected to invest about 40 million euros after the summer transfers.

In order not only to set another sign, Allofs has started another race — the one for the currently most valuable player in the Swiss Super League, Breel Embolo (FC Basel).

Like Bayern Munich, Moenchengladbach and Dortmund, Wolfsburg is keen to sign the 18-year-old Cameroon-born striker who is regarded to be worth up to 16 million euros. But all the German clubs will face still competition for his signature from Juventus.

Allofs is sure to make Embolo aware that Wolfsburg would be the ideal club for the Swiss as he would be guaranteed a place in the starting 11 alongside Andre Schuerrle, Max Kruse and Julian Draxler who are all German internationals. And Daniel Caligiuri could be the next to be called up by Loew.

The Germans will have to be quick in case of Caligiuri as the striker has Italian roots and dual citizenship. He has already been chosen in the Italian squad but without having appeared on the pitch, meaning he is still a candidate for Germany.

Embolo could replace Wolfsburg’s Dutch striker Bas Dost who is expected to leave. If Loew decides to call for Caligiuri in the upcoming friendlies, Allofs would be one step further with his plans to implement a sort of ‘VfL Germany’ or at least the ‘light’ version as most of Germany’s internationals wear Bayern Munich colours.

At present, things don’t look too bad for Wolfsburg as the team seems to be getting over the shock news that owner Volkswagen is considering a reduction in financial support (approximately 80 million euros per season) due to the financial difficulties they are in after the scandal surrounding false emissions data. Fact is: Wolfsburg’s football team is the only one responsible for positive headlines.

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