For Amine Adli, the restart of the Bundesliga will also be a personal reboot. After two long injury breaks, the French U-21 player is fit as a fiddle again and is putting pressure on rival Adam Hlozek with his test match goals.

Since goalkeeper Patrik Schick has been out with persistent groin problems, the only question in Leverkusen for a long time was who would replace the Czech national player: his compatriot Adam Hlozek or Sardar Azmoun. But since the dress rehearsal against FC Copenhagen at the latest, a third answer has become obvious: Amine Adli.

Against the Danish Champions League star, the 22-year-old scored his third goal in the last three games of the winter preparation as a wild card with the 1:0 winner and did some self-promotion. “I am very happy about it. It’s always easier with goals,” said the talent on Monday after the internal test match, in which the substitutes and reserves from the Copenhagen game won 5:0 against their U-19s after 2 x 30 minutes. Again with a goal by Adli.

The left-footer is the big beneficiary of the long winter break. He was able to work off a lot after suffering a torn tendon in his thigh in March 2022 and breaking his collarbone on his comeback in mid-August on matchday 2 against FC Augsburg as a joker. As a result, Adli has only been in Leverkusen’s starting eleven four times so far this season, registering just one scoring point.

Adli: “I feel 100 per cent”.

That is now set to change. “This winter break has done me good. I was able to work on my condition and my muscles. I feel 100 per cent,” explains Adli and proves this with his performances. The fast and extremely run-happy attacker is putting a lot of pressure on Adam Hlozek, who has improved but is hardly a threat to score. Neither of them is real centre-forwards. Adli, however, develops much more drive into the penalty area and towards the goal. He is also a better-pressing player.

A starting role in Gladbach?

His goals after difficult months last year are obvious. “I want to play more often, score, set up goals, play a better second half of the season,” he says. And Adli may well fancy his chances of starting at Gladbach on Sunday. “We are confident and ready for the Bundesliga,” he says referring to the team. A message that also applies to him personally.

The system variant that coach Xabi Alonso chose against the Danes suits Adli. Florian Wirtz played as a false nine, flanked by two attackers in the half positions. Moussa Diaby is set to play in these positions. The second place is still open. The fact that Adli benefits from the return of Wirtz, but also that he is a good option for the Leverkusen top star with his deep runs, speaks in his favour.

“He is a game-changer”

“I think he has to play like a ten, have freedom. He can make the connection from defence to offence. He is a game-changer. His best position is in the centre,” Adli explains about Wirtz’s new role, “he makes it easier for the whole team. He has a great impact on the game, and has many qualities.”

Morocco instead of France?

Word of the qualities of Adli, who holds a Moroccan passport as well as a French one, has spread as far as North Africa. The World Cup fourth-placed team is said to be trying to recruit Adli for Morocco’s senior national team. It’s a topic Adli is brushing aside with his full focus on the restart in Gladbach. “I will say something about that at the right time,” he replies, perhaps letting something slip after all.

Adli recently experienced how great the competition is in the Equipe Tricolore with the example of his team-mate Moussa Diaby, who was not nominated for the World Cup despite various absences in France’s attack. And from 21 June to 8 July, the European U-21 Championship will take place in Romania and Georgia. It can be assumed that Adli will not want to miss this tournament because of an ill-considered statement.