Networking is key, they tell you, in life, in business, in just about every aspect of human existence. It’s often about who you know rather than what you know. Sometimes, those two factors come together, and you get something like the Timo Werner transfer.
With 92 goals in 154 appearances for RB Leipzig, including 31 in 40 this season, there’s no doubting Werner’s goalscoring credentials. While the transition from any league to the Premier League can be tough, Werner should be able to handle it just like the last big-name striker to arrive in England from Germany. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 61 goals in 97 appearances since joining Arsenal 2.5 years ago. (Christian Pulisic has also made the transition pretty well; Naby Keïta a little less so.)
But how did Werner’s clear abilities get connected with Chelsea’s clear need for those abilities? Liverpool pulling out due to financial reasons certainly helped. But Werner, with three years left on his contract, could’ve easily stayed at Leipzig, which they would’ve preferred anyway.
In The Athletic’s rundown of the transfer, that all supposedly changed just in the last couple weeks, as the June 15 deadline for the buyout clause started to “loom” and Werner didn’t want a repeat of last summer’s uncertainty and drama.
Chelsea came in with intent, as we like to do, and convinced the 24-year-old that Stamford Bridge was his best option. Frank Lampard then did his best Mourinho-phone-call impression and during “two lengthy phone conversations” sold the striker on “working under another admiring coach and joining a promising young squad” — from Nagelsmann (32) to Lampard (41), from Leipzig’s youth-centrism to Chelsea’s Youth Revolution™.
Multiple reports also talk up the role of Antonio Rüdiger. While the Athletic bring him up specifically only to claim that he is “particularly excited” by Werner’s arrival, others like Bild (via Metro) claim that the Chelsea man actually played a “key role” in Werner choosing the club. When that angle was first reported, last week, it seemed hilarious and silly. Now it looks like a legendary move from Toni.
Rüdiger and Werner both made their breakthroughs at VfB Stuttgart and were teammates from 2011-15, first in the reserves, then in the first-team. Rüdiger left in 2015 for AS Roma, first on loan then permanently, and Stuttgart-born and bred Werner followed a year later. Toni’s three years older than Timo, but their connection, which has continued in the German national team as well, is now set to pay dividend for Chelsea — and hopefully will continue to do so for a long time.