Soccer-Puerta hopes Leverkusen success will bring a place in Colombia's Copa America squad


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa League - Group H - Bayer Leverkusen v Molde - BayArena, Leverkusen, Germany - December 14, 2023 Molde's Kristian Eriksen in action with Bayer Leverkusen's Gustavo Puerta REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo

(Reuters) - Gustavo Puerta's first season with Bayer Leverkusen could not have gone any better and the 20-year-old midfielder hopes his experience with the undefeated German side will earn him a place in Colombia's Copa America squad this summer.

Puerta has made eight appearances this season for Bundesliga champions Leverkusen, who are unbeaten in 46 matches across all competitions under Xabi Alonso.

They will play AS Roma in the Europa League semi-finals and are also through to the German Cup final.

"This year has been wonderful for me and for my career, I hope to keep winning titles and get minutes at the end of the tournament," Puerta told Reuters.

Puerta enjoyed success with Colombia's under-20 side and has received his first call-up for the national team's friendlies against Spain and Romania in March.

He hopes to make an impression on coach Nestor Lorenzo with the Copa America on the horizon in June and July.

"Being in this team with an undefeated run is very important to be considered for the national team if the coach (Lorenzo) thinks I can contribute," he added.

"We haven't talked much about it, but he told me that he's keeping an eye on me, that he wants to see me play. I hope to get minutes in the end because it is a privilege to be in the national team, I want to wait for the call-up."

The Colombian added that playing for one of the top 10 teams in the world has not only improved his game but also given him confidence in his abilities.

"It helps you mature, spending time with great world-class players on a daily basis and training with them is important, they are very experienced and that makes a difference for someone as young as me," he added.

Puerta said he felt supported by the club and that he would be able to reach his full potential under Alonso.

"It was historic, very nice, very crazy to have won my first title in one of the top five leagues in Europe," he added.

(Reporting by Angelica Medina in Mexico City; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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