Shock news came out Thursday that Chelsea have triggered the release clause for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. For £49 million pounds and at the age of 24, the Blues are getting one of the best forwards in the world coming into his prime years.
So, how will he fit at Chelsea and what does it mean for the already overcrowded attacking options?
Timo Werner To Chelsea Could Result in Change of Tactics and Loss of Personnel
World Class Werner
Last week, Leipzig’s manager Julian Nagelsmann equated losing Werner to Bayern Munich losing star striker Robert Lewandowski. “If he leaves for the next season there would be a big gap. It’s like if Robert Lewandowski leaves Bayern Munich. Nobody shouts ‘Hurray!’ there either, I think. They’re clearly weakened then, and it’s the same with us” (translation via Goal). And his manager couldn’t be more right.
The German has 92 goals and 39 assists in 154 games, amounting to 0.85 goal contributions per game in almost four years at Leipzig. This year, however, he’s reached a whole new level.
So far, Werner has scored 31 across all competitions. In the Bundesliga alone, he rippled the net 25 times, only four behind league leader Lewandowski.
He’s not, though, just a goal scorer. Werner also creates for his teammates as a free-roaming second striker, collecting nine assists in all comps with seven in the league, creating 12 big chances, and averaging 1.4 key passes a game according to SofaScore.
In many categories, Werner only trails Lewandowski in Germany. But how does he compare to guys in the Premier League?
In terms of goals and assists per 90 minutes, Werner averages 1.21 per game. If he were in the Premier League this year, he would again be second. But, only just behind Aguero.
If Chelsea and Leipzig have indeed agreed to Werner’s transfer, the Blues are getting a top-quality, world-class striker.
Werner And Abraham Partnership
Bringing in someone as talented, and as expensive (£49 million and £200k a week), as Werner means Chelsea manager Frank Lampard will likely move away from his preferred single striker 4-3-3 system.
As a second striker, Werner loves to drift out wide, usually left, playing off a central striker who occupies the centre backs. And because of it, he finds himself in great positions to both provide for teammates and score in bunches.
Werner is lightning quick and brilliant on counter-attacks, never more evident than when he broke free against Cologne on Monday.
This is a perfect set up for Chelsea’s attack. Tammy Abraham can play as the big, strong target man that draws the focus of both centre backs. At the same time, Werner’s dynamic style will drive defenders crazy as he moves between the lines, drifts wide, and uses his pace to get in behind. And being a lethal finisher, defences can’t afford to lose track of him as he continually will pop up in all types of positions.
As for Abraham, this will take the pressure off him as the central striker who has 13 leagues goals this campaign. Plus, the Englishman is great in the air both in open play and on corners thanks to his 6’2″ frame, opposite to the 5’11” German who uses his head for intelligence, not heading.
The two complement each other spectacularly with different skill sets that will cause defenders nightmares. Back up centre forwards Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi will once again have to feel comfortable on the bench, or on loan again for the latter.
Odd Man Out Wide
Chelsea already have a plethora of attacking options before buying Werner. Therefore, change of system or not, someone has to, unfortunately, be the odd man out with Werner and Abraham likely upfront and one other attacker either wide right or in the number ten role behind the two.
Chelsea’s first summer signing, Hakim Ziyech for £33 million, fits perfectly on the right side as in inverted winger. He likes to cut in on his preferred left foot and whip in deadly crosses or continue forward and fire on goal.
Both have yielded wild success as the magical Moroccan has averaged an 8.19 and 8.54 rating on WhoScored the past two Eredivisie seasons while scoring 29 goals and adding a jaw-dropping 45 assists in all competitions with Ajax.
That leaves wide attackers Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Lampard does not seem to rate the American very highly as he’s only played in 23 matches this season. Moreover, Pulisic arrived from Borussia Dortmund before Lampard became manager.
As for Hudson-Odoi, he is an academy graduate. However, he put in a transfer request with Bayern Munich circling in January 2019 under former manager Maurizio Sarri.
With Werner (all but confirmed) and Ziyech coming in for next season, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi will find playing time hard to come by as the odd men out.
Werner Signing A Huge Blues Win
By signing Timo Werner, Chelsea have strengthened their squad beyond belief. And it came unexpectedly with Liverpool previously thought of as favourites for his signature.
It does, though, cause more overcrowding in the attack and will have to push someone to the periphery. Unfortunate some individuals. Great for the club.