Leverkusen fends off interest in Germany midfielder Brandt

FILE - In this July 25, 2016 file photo Julian Brandt of German Bundesliga soccer club Bayer Leverkusen poses for the official team photo at the BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany. Bayer Leverkusen has warded off interest in Germany midfielder Julian Brandt by extending the 21-year-old’s contract by two years to 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, file)
FILE - The March 27, 2018 file photo shows Germany's Julian Brandt during the international friendly soccer match between Germany and Brazil in Berlin, Germany. Bayer Leverkusen has warded off interest in Germany midfielder Julian Brandt by extending the 21-year-old’s contract by two years to 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

LEVERKUSEN, Germany — Bayer Leverkusen has warded off interest in Julian Brandt by extending the 21-year-old Germany midfielder's contract by two years to 2021.

"With this step we have managed to convince one of the most sought-after German players to continue on the same path as us," Leverkusen managing director Michael Schade said Wednesday. "To have beaten off absolute top competition for Julian from home and abroad is a huge success for us."

A quick player with outstanding technical ability, Brandt has long been linked with Bundesliga rival Bayern Munich.

"I feel really good here and I see that something really big is developing here," Brandt. "That was shown by the recent contract extensions for Jonathan Tah and Lars Bender. They two of them are convinced like me that we can achieve something with this team."

Brandt joined Leverkusen from Wolfsburg's under-19 team in January 2014 and has since made 165 appearances, scoring 24 goals and setting up 25 more. He has six goals and four assists so far in the Bundesliga this season.

"Julian was already an outstanding player as a 17-year-old when he came to us," Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller said. "However, he would probably not have reached his current level as quickly without the playing time that he got with us."

Brandt, Germany's youngest squad member for the recent friendlies against Spain and Brazil, has made 14 appearances for the national team and is a likely pick for Joachim Loew's World Cup team.

Leverkusen is fifth in the Bundesliga and fighting for Champions League qualification with six games remaining.

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