It seems to be only a matter of signing and filing some paperwork before Timo Werner can lift a blue shirt and smile awkwardly at a camera to seal his Chelsea move. Since Chelsea’s fax machines are routinely maintained, we feel secure enough to look ahead. To do so I have enlisted SB Nation’s go-to man for all things Bundesliga, Jake Fenner, who writes at Bavarian Football Works and is the Director of Podcasting, Executive Producer, and Host of Bavarian Podcast Works. He’s a busy one!
Thankfully, he took a bit of time to chat with me about Timo Werner, who was all but set to join Bayern Munich last summer, was all but set to join Liverpool this summer, but now looks set to actually join Chelsea!
(Ed.note: the interview has been edited for length.)
WAGNH: Werner’s s exit may have been coming (even though their English twitter account posted as if it wouldn’t) but how badly will they feel this loss?
BFW: It all depends on who they turn to in order to replace his goal scoring output. Werner joined the team as a youngster from the VfB Stuttgart academy and immediately impressed the bosses and scored early and often in his career. Now, over the past few seasons, he’s had the help of other players such as Emil Forsberg and Yussuf Poulsen so the burden of scoring wasn’t solely placed on him. However, with Forsberg pumping out more assists than goals and Poulsen’s production falling off a cliff, I imagine they look elsewhere in the league for some striking power.
They currently have Patrik Schick on loan from Roma and I could see them keeping him, but his 9 goals in 22 games this season won’t be enough to fully replace Werner. One name that’s been floated out as a replacement is Milot Raschica, a winger from Werder Bremen, who’s managed 10 goals and 6 assists across 29 games in all competitions. He’s only 23 and he would fit right into the Leipzig mold of young attackers with high promise. So to answer your question, if they can go out and permanently sign a promising young striker, then they won’t be as stung by Werner’s loss.
WAGNH: It does seem like they were caught a bit flat-footed, particularly due to the relatively low release clause. Is it a case of not expecting Werner to leave, or is it that Werner became too good to reasonably replace?
BFW: I think it’s the case that Werner became too good to be replaced. Once Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left Borussia Dortmund for Arsenal, Timo Werner became the second best striker in the Bundesliga behind Robert Lewandowski. Losing him will probably be very tough for Leipzig’s immediate future, but if they can find someone similar to him, and nurture and develop him just as well, they may easily find another gem lying around their youth academy.
WAGNH: Well, if they do dig up another one I guess we’ll see if they’ve learned their lesson about low release clauses. As for Timo himself, we know he has pace galore (and even more than that), but what else does he consistently do well that makes him a terror to defend?
BFW: He’s probably one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen. He’s able to score goals from weird angles, off balance, all over the place. He’s incredibly accurate and seems to score goals almost effortlessly when he’s given a little bit of space in front of net.
WAGNH: Is he more adept at creating his own shot or getting in positions for high quality shots? Or both?
BFW: He’s good at both. His pace allows him to break through defenses and puts him at an advantage for creating shots. But, he’s also been able to supply a dinky goal from a low cross into the box. He’s multi-faceted in that regard.
WAGNH: Great answer and exactly what I wanted to hear, I’m in love. Snap me out of it by stepping on my rapidly beating Chelsea heart and tell me what he’s not so good at.
BFW: Not that he’s incapable, but Werner’s game could go a long way if he utilized some more skilled dribbling. We saw him at the 2018 World Cup with Germany being deployed in a wing position. He’s perfectly capable of playing there, but he excels more in that central role. If he wanted to be used more on the wings though, he has to develop better ball skills. But at least that’s something he seems keen to do.
WAGNH: So far Frank Lampard’s system has been pretty fluid, so it’s good to hear that he’s already open and eager to develop wide skills. What about defensive tactics, is there a particular structure and/or type of defender he struggles with?
BFW: He’s struggled a lot against Bayern Munich. He’s only managed three goals against Bayern when Leipzig was in the top flight. His most recent goal came in March of 2018 and the other two of those came in a memorable 5-4 game which saw Bayern win in the 90th minute.
When he’s matched for pace along the backline, he isn’t as effective. So, this season, when Bayern Munich were forced to push Alphonso Davies to left back and David Alaba to center-back, Werner wasn’t productive. I look at teams in the Premier League and think that he could struggle against the likes of Liverpool. But, slower defenses like Sheffield United and Arsenal would get carved up by Werner.
My take on the Timo Werner to Chelsea news, unrealistic expectations placed on players, and why the Bundesliga should care about his success abroad: https://t.co/yNbyYoZfkm— Jefferson #JusticeForGeorge Fenner (@jeffersonfenner) June 5, 2020
WAGNH: That was my next question! How do you think he’ll do in the premier league? No one expects the same output as in his Leipzig days (at least not yet), but do you see him being one of the top 10 strikers in England? Top 5? Maybe 3 (please say yes)?
BFW: My hope is that Chelsea fans give Timo Werner the time and patience he needs to adjust to life in England and the Premier League, and that they won’t rush to judgement after his first season. That being said, I could see him being, at worst, a top 10 striker in the league next year. More realistically, I could see him being top 5, but then again, the Premier League is stacked with attacking talent.
WAGNH: Did you just mention ‘time and patience’ in the same sentence as ‘Chelsea fans’? Don’t you know we have trophies to win! Realistically, I guess it also depends on how Werner grows and adapts, right? He turned 24 in March and is already a stud, as he enters his cliché Prime Years™. How much better can he get?
BFW: I think his basement could be a consistent 10 goals per season for the rest of his career. His maximum? With the pace and finishing he has!? You could’ve beaten Arsenal to the next Thierry Henry...
WAGNH: Good lord, we should just end the interview there because that would be delightful.
Anyway, final question. What’s a classic or memorable Timo Werner goal or scoring sequence?
BFW: Remember before when I mentioned Werner having a penchant for cheeky goals? I watched this one again recently and I just had to let out a laugh. I don’t know how he was able to get up and continue the play after getting knocked to the ground. It’s a funny looking goal, but I think it also reveals his hunger and quick feet.
WAGNH: I really appreciate you letting me pepper you with questions about a player your club missed out on. Thank you!
BFW: Absolutely, glad I could help!