Leverkusen Star Men GFXGOAL

Florian Wirtz, Victor Boniface and Bayer Leverkusen's breakout stars making Xabi Alonso's side Bundesliga title contenders

Bayern Munich made the statement signing of the summer transfer window in Germany, winning the race to sign Harry Kane by agreeing to pay Tottenham €100 million (£86m/$109m) for the England international. The feeling was that the Bavarians had acquired a No.9 capable of firing them to Champions League glory this season - and you certainly wouldn't rule it out, with Kane having already scored 22 times in 18 appearances in all competitions.

Truth be told, though, there's no guarantee that Bayern will even win the Bundesliga this season. A 12th consecutive title was taken as a given after Kane's arrival at the Allianz Arena, but despite the striker's sensational form, his team is not top of the table right now.

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That's because while Bayern were dominating the headlines with a club-record signing, Bayer Leverkusen were constructing a squad perfectly suited to Xabi Alonso's 3-4-2-1 formation with the money raised from the sale of Moussa Diaby to Aston Villa - and the results have been remarkable. Ahead of Sunday's clash with Borussia Dortmund, unbeaten Bayer have taken 34 points from the 36 available so far - equalling a record set by Bayern Munich in 2015-16, when Alonso was anchoring Pep Guardiola's midfield.

So, can the Spaniard keep this run going? Could he really lead his thrilling team to a first-ever German title? Could the 'Neverkusen' nickname be finally banished? There's still a long, long way to go, of course, but what is clear is that Alonso has had an incredible impact on several players, from top young talents to revived veterans.

GOAL runs through the key men behind Leverkusen's historic start to the 2023-24 season...