Victor Boniface: Xabi Alonso Explains Benching of Bayer Leverkusen Striker

Victor Boniface: Xabi Alonso Explains Benching of Bayer Leverkusen Striker

Edwin Kiplagat
May 22, 2024 at 12:19 PM
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  • Injury disrupted Victor Boniface's first season at Bayer Leverkusen
  • Despite that, he has produced excellent numbers at the German club
  • Xabi Alonso has explained why the striker has not started many games

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Victor Boniface and Bayer Leverkusen will face Atalanta in the Europa League final on Wednesday evening, looking to clinch another trophy.

The German club have already won the 2023/24 Bundesliga title, the first in their history, and could finish the season as treble winners.

Boniface missed nearly four months with an injury, but since his return, he has not started as many games as he would've hoped for.

Victor Boniface, Nigeria, Xabi Alonso, Bayer Leverkusen, Bundesliga, Europa League
Bayer Leverkusen coach, Xabi Alonso, having a chat with Victor Boniface. Photo by Marco Steinbrenner/DeFodi Images.
Source: Getty Images

The Nigerian is in his first season with Leverkusen, which has been historic.

The 23-year-old started the season in blistering form, helping Xabi Alonso's team set early momentum in the title race, which proved crucial.

The former Union Saint-Gilloise star has played 33 matches in all competitions this season and registered 21 goals and nine assists. He was Leverkusen's top scorer in the Bundesliga with 14 goals.

He started 18 out of 23 top flight matches, four out of seven Europa League games, and two out of three in the DFB-Pokal, per Transfermarkt.

Just before the start of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, he was diagnosed with an abductor injury, which kept him out from mid-January to early April.

Since his return, Alonso has started Boniface in three matches. It is unclear if he will start in the Europa League final against Atalanta tonight in Dublin.

Alonso explains Boniface's benching

A few weeks ago, Alonso explained why Boniface was benched sometimes for the entire game. Before their match at the Aviva Stadium, the former Real Madrid midfielder cleared the air about the matter.

"But for sure, after the injury, it takes time. But, of course, we have a wide squad, we have so many players and all of them want to be on the pitch," he told Nigerian journalist, Oma Akatugba.
"I like when someone is not playing and shows his character to prove (to me) 'coach, you were wrong, I had to be on the pitch.' So, that's the challenge, that's the professional," Xabi added.

Alonso assured Nigerians that the club is happy with Boniface's contributions.

"I am happy with Boniface, you know the impact that he has had this year for us - he has helped us so much and we are helping him too to be back on track. So, tell your people from Nigeria that we are happy with him."

The Super Eagles striker could get his hands on his second trophy of the season if they beat Atalanta, tonight.

Boniface wins Bundesliga award

Sports Brief also previously reported on Boniface winning the Bundesliga's Rookie of the Season award, the first for a Bayer Leverkusen player.

The former Bodø/Glimt striker beat Borussia Dortmund's Ian Maatsen, Hoffenheim's Maximillian Beier, and Leipzig's Xavi Simons to the award.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.