Brandt honoured to be linked with Barcelona

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Julian Brandt described reports linking him to Barcelona as "an honour", but the Bayer Leverkusen star is wary of letting the interest go to his head.

After four seasons of consecutive Champions League qualification, Leverkusen dropped out of the top four last term, ultimately finishing 12th in a campaign which cost Roger Schmidt his job.

Missing out on European competition came with fears that Germany international Brandt could leave, with Bayern Munich strongly linked, but the winger opted to stay at the BayArena.

He has now been mentioned as a potential January target for Barca, who remain on the hunt for attacking options after failing to land Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.

"This is an honour in any case, I will not deny that now," Brandt told Omnisport.

"Of course, this is always a sign that your achievements were not for nothing.

"And like I said, of course it reflects your performance on the pitch, but you have to block out something like that in the end.

"If you always float on a cloud and say: 'I'm such a cool guy, because this club wants to have me', this is the wrong way, because then you drop with your achievements."

Heiko Herrlich has taken charge of the Leverkusen first team and they are on the up after a shaky start, winning three and drawing two of their last five in all competitions, including a 5-1 win at Borussia Monchengladbach last week, leaving them ninth.

Brandt remains hopeful Leverkusen can get back amongst the front-runners, but is taking things one step at a time.

"That will be tough. I guess first of all we want to settle in the top half of the league. That should be our first goal," he added.

"Since a few weeks we are something like 11th, 12th, 13th in the table.

"That we don't feel that well about that is obvious, but now the goal should be to distance ourselves from the lower spots. After that the sight goes to the top spots too but everything at its time."