The BayArena is a long way away from the Estadio Monumental. It’s 11,600km in distance. It’s an 18-hour journey. It’s a long way from home for Exequiel Palacios.
Yet the Argentine midfielder’s new club Bayer Leverkusen are doing all they can to make the BayArena feel like the sort of environment he can thrive in. That’s what they do for all their new arrivals and they have particular experience when it comes to South Americans. While the Bundesliga has never really been a league to have attracted lots of players from the continent, Bayer Leverkusen have a proud history of bringing exciting talents to Europe and propelling them towards the top.
Arturo Vidal, Lúcio and Zé Roberto all adapted to European football at Die Werkself in the past before moving on to other clubs on the continent, while the current squad also contains Brazilian left-back Wendell, Brazilian winger Paulinho, Chilean midfielder Charles Aránguiz and Argentine forward Lucas Alario.
“It’s easy because if a South American player is coming then there are already a few here,” Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said of the club’s readiness to host South American up-and-comers like Palacios.