Kiessling: Watch out for Bayer 04

As Stefan Kiessling enters his tenth season with Bayer Leverkusen, he's confident the club have what it takes to be a real force in the Bundesliga this season.

After the departures of Gonzalo Castro to Dortmund, Stefan Reinartz to Frankfurt and the retirement of influential captain Simon Rolfes, fans and pundits alike predicted a decline in fortunes for Roger Schmidt's side, but Kiessling dismissed those fears in an interview with the league's official website.

"It's definitely a big loss, not only sporting but also on a human level because they are three top characters, he said. "But football's like this, people come and people go.

"What's more important is that those brought in fit in. We've got many very young players who have an incredible amount of potential. If they succeed in proving their potential, then I'm convinced we're going to have a competitive squad."

With the likes of Admir Mehmedi, Son Heung-min, Karim Bellarabi and Turkish superstar Hakan Çalhanoglu in their squad, Leverkusen are seen to be a club with a formidable attacking potential.

However, the Germany international believes there is still along way to go before Leverkusen are able to challenge the likes of Bayern Munich for the league title.

He added: "There are going to be plenty of sides jostling for the sought-after Champions League slots.

"I think Borussia Monchengladbach will have another good season, Schalke have strengthened and Dortmund are going to come back too. Then there's Wolfsburg, of course, and we're there still too.

"But let's not beat about the bush, a heck of a lot has got to go wrong for Bayern and conversely so much has got to go right for their rivals for the title not to end up in Munich.

"We'll definitely give it our best shot, and I'm convinced we'll be up there among the leading sides again."