Timo Werner lives life in the fast lane. His rise through the ranks into German footballing stardom has been as rapid as his runs towards goal on the pitch. In keeping with this theme, it’s fitting that ‘Turbo Timo’ is ready to take the next big step earlier than most. One look at the way he goes about his business on the pitch makes it clear why that next step may take him to Anfield.
Werner represents the archetypal Jürgen Klopp centre-forward. Intertwined with his red-hot pace is an unerringly accurate right foot in front of goal and silky skill that wouldn’t see him out of place on the wings. This new age centre-forward, a hybrid of winger and target man, could be a recipe for success in the hands of Klopp, as Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can testify.
Having scored 24 goals for the U-19s in the 2012/13 season, Werner made his debut with his hometown club VfB Stuttgart aged just 17, going on to become their youngest debutant and scorer in his first season. The records kept tumbling as he quickly racked up 50 appearances before his 19th birthday. It was around this time that clubs like Tottenham began expressing their interest in securing the starlet’s services. However, his team was beset by bigger problems, and he couldn’t keep them in the top-flight as they got relegated at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
14 goals in over 100 appearances suggested that all that limitless potential when he burst onto the scene wasn’t nearly being fulfilled by Werner. Off the pitch too, his fast deteriorating relationship with the manager was there for all to see. In a sensational public outburst, Alexander Zorniger blamed Werner for dropping two points after a 2-2 draw with Hoffenheim. ‘We could have won 3-2, but Werner was so busy blowing kisses to the crowd after his equaliser that he forgot to focus on scoring a winner.’
RB Leipzig shelled out a club-record €10 million to bring Werner back into the Bundesliga, and it is here that he has nurtured into one of Europe’s finest young marksmen. After bagging 21 goals in first league campaign with the club, goals became harder to come by the following year, but this season he is back amongst the top goalscorers with 11 goals at the halfway stage.
Where does Werner fit in with the Reds?
Werner has spent most of his time at Leipzig as one half of the attack in a 4-2-2-2 formation. Though Klopp has rarely deployed a two-striker system as Liverpool boss, a Werner-Salah partnership is an enticing prospect. This could also help bring the best out of summer signing and Werner’s ex-teammate Naby Keïta, who Klopp admits is yet to match his considerable potential.
Another iteration is one that Kopites have become used to this season, in the 4-2-3-1. With Roberto Firmino slotting into midfield, Salah has taken up the number 9 position. Werner would be a more natural fit for that role while allowing Salah to take up his station on the right wing again, where he remains at his devastating best.
As things stand
According to Klopp, the January window may not be too action-packed with incomings at Melwood unlikely. However, with the sales of Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings raising funds and reducing striking options, it would be no surprise to see the Premier League leaders make an effort to lure the former Dortmund manager’s compatriot.
Although initially reluctant to entertain the prospect of their striker’s departure, Leipzig have opened the door in recent weeks. Oliver Mintzlaff, the Global Head of Soccer at Red Bull GmbH (RB Leipzig’s parent company) said, ‘A club like ours cannot afford to have Timo Werner go into a final contract year.’ With that contract expiring in 2020, the time to pull the trigger on any transfer decisions is fast approaching.
Read More | From the archive – Who Is Europe’s Next Big Striker? |
As is the case with any top homegrown German talent, Bayern Munich have also thrown their name into the transfer hat. The last time these two clubs went after a player the Bavarians came out on top, securing Leon Goretzka’s signature. With a mouth-watering Champions League knockout tie coming up in a few weeks’ time, it will be interesting to see if Werner’s name is on either teamsheet.
Luis Suárez, Philippe Coutinho, Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool do fancy a January signing. There is no doubt that Timo Werner fits the bill, and with a valuation of around £36 million, he offers great value for money. With Manchester City hot on their heels again in their pursuit of a first league title in 30 years, the extra ammunition might just be what Liverpool need.
Feature image via Sport Bild
Werner Leipzig image via Airtel Uganda Football
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