Sources suggest that Chelsea have agreed a deal with RB Leipzig to sign 24-year-old striker Timo Werner by activating the German’s £54 million release clause.
Werner will be Chelsea’s second first-team signing of the summer transfer window after The Blues completed a £37 million deal with Ajax for Hakim Ziyech in February.
This signing is being viewed as a huge coup, after Werner had been heavily linked with a move to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Werner scored 25 goals in 29 goals for Leipzig, and is further evidence that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is looking to make up for lost time in the transfer market after Chelsea were banned from signing players for Frank Lampard’s first transfer window in charge, and the Blues failed to sign anyone in the January window. It also reflects that Lampard is looking to bolster and consolidate his teams attacking options, after French striker Oliver Giroud also signed a new deal with the team last month.
So who is Timo Werner and what are his main strengths?
Timo Werner is a striker who has scored 75 goals in 122 appearances, and provided 27 assists during a seven-year career in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart and most recently RB Leipzig. He has also scored 11 goals in 29 games for the German national team. As the statistics demonstrate, Werner is a serious goal threat and a clinical finisher, who was integral to Leipzig finishing 2nd in the 2016-17 campaign.
While Werner has become more flexible and versatile, his main strengths still lie with his blistering speed, agility and ability to successfully play on the shoulder of the centre defenders.
Werner has impressed many with his positional versatility throughout his career. Werner was originally used as a winger at his first club, Stuttgart, and has proven he still has the ability to adopt a wider role with much success. Many of his assists and goals have come from a wider position this season; Werner proved a useful ‘out-ball’ to Leipzig down the channels when they were able to secure a 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on February 2.
Werner is also equally devastating and harder to suppress when dropping between the lines of midfielders and defenders as a number ten, where six of his seven assists have come from in this position.
What does this mean for Chelsea: will he be a success?
Timo Werner’s aforementioned speed means he is suited to Chelsea’s high-energy and pressing. While his ability to play as a striker, winger or central attacking midfielder means he is almost certain to feature in the Chelsea first eleven every week, Werner’s desire to drop deep, go wide or run in behind means that he will provide Lampard with a diverse, multi-dimensional and reinvigorated attack for next season. Such versatility fits nicely into Lampard’s attacking footballing philosophy which saw Chelsea predominately use one touch football and low whipped crosses to score most of their goals this season.
While Chelsea and Werner seem like a good fit, they are by no means a perfect one. Werner has found most success this Leipzig this season when playing as a striker in a 4-2-2-2 formation, a system which Lampard has very rarely used as Chelsea boss, instead opting for one striker in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation. While Werner could easily fit into either of these formations as a winger or 8 or 10 midfielder, neither of these positions are likely to get the best out of him, especially in a new league.
In light of the transfer fee and the German’s record, it is likely that Chelsea will have to make changes to either their formation or personnel in order to accommodate Werner. While current striker Tammy Abraham is the most likely candidate to make way for Werner, this could prove a foolish decision considering Abraham’s good first season and Werner’s lack of experience as a single striker.
Perhaps Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley and Jorginho are most at risk of dropping down the pecking order come next season. While unclear as to who Lampard will choose to retain and drop, midfielders with the ability to both competently defend and pass forwards will likely be preferred next season.
Chelsea’s signing of German striker Timo Werner is a clear sign the London are back in the transfer window and mean business next season. Only time will tell as to whether or not Werner – as well as the rest of the Chelsea squad – will be able to fulfil the club’s ambitions of a title challenge.