The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the prospects Timo Werner could offer to the Chelsea side amid rumours linking the RB Leipzig attacker to Stamford Bridge.
Sky Sports have recently broken out a story regarding Timo Werner. Chelsea have apparently agreed to pay the £49 million release clause of the RB Leipzig attacker, which was set to expire on June 15.
The Blues have also offered Werner a staggering £200,000 a week contract – that could make him one of the highest-paid footballers at Stamford Bridge. It is a massive breakthrough for a Chelsea side, who already have signed Hakim Ziyech earlier this year.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will be taking a closer look at how Werner’s potential arrival could boost Frank Lampard’s quest as the English footballing legend looks to restore Chelsea’s glory in the coming years.
Timo Werner: More than a striker
Ever since his successful debut campaign at RB Leipzig, Werner has always been regarded as a versatile forward. While “more than a striker” is often a cliched term in football, it certainly applies to the German international and for multiple reasons.
Werner primarily prefers to play in a more central role in the attack, having led the Leipzig attack for almost four years now. He has flourished alongside a supporting forward like Yussuf Poulsen and of late, Patrik Schick. The hold-up play and the technical prowess of these two individuals have allowed Werner much more space to work with.
What makes the German such a sought-after forward in world football are his pace and aggression. It makes him a solid outlet in the first line of press, with the attacker often trying to close down the ball-playing defenders. In addition, he can drift out wide and provide runs in behind the backline.
The 24-year-old is equipped with blistering pace. But more importantly, he has the positional awareness to identify certain spaces, thus allowing him to not only stretch the opposing backline but also become a scourge for the defenders on the counter.
The German international has notably attained an xG of 21.3 while scoring 25 goals this season, which is indicative of the player’s excellent conversion rate.
Another key observation from Werner’s game is his 8.64 xA ratio, which is essentially the sum of xG off the player’s key passes, thus reflecting the forward’s ability to create chances. It is also the sixth-highest in the Bundesliga and higher than other centre-forward. (He only trails crafted individuals like Jadon Sancho and Thomas Muller among a few others)
To put things into perspective, Bundesliga’s top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski has attained an xA rate of 6.91 despite being involved in significantly more attacking moments than Werner. In fact, a radar comparison of the two players, in terms of build-up and chance creation this season clearly suggests that the RB Leipzig forward is much more versatile and is more willing to operate as a catalyst in his side’s creative game. (Stat courtesy: Understat)
A tactical fit for Lampard?
There is already a stark amount of criticism surfacing on social media, regarding how Werner could be a misfit at Chelsea. A host of football fans apparently believe that the RB Leipzig sensation might have to compete with Tammy Abraham, which, one way or another, could stifle both their progress. Werner is also tipped to not excel on the flanks, as much as other potential alternatives in the market, including Sancho.
However, an analysis of Lampard’s tactical setup at Chelsea might reveal otherwise.
The Englishman has embraced a one-touch, attacking approach, which has served the club quite well. While they certainly have some definite holes in the backline, only Manchester City and Liverpool have managed to attain more xG score than the Blues this season.
However, aside from Abraham and Mount, no one else has really excelled when it comes to goalscoring. There is a case for Willian being an integral part of the club’s chance creation.
But, Lampard clearly needs an alternative on the left-flank – someone who can provide more productivity than Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic. Willian, himself, meanwhile, is on the verge of leaving Stamford Bridge, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.
That’s where Werner could come into the fray. The 24-year-old is actually an ideal fit in Lampard’s 4-2-3-1 formation, with Abraham leading the attack.
In Chelsea’s attacking approach, the fullbacks love to push forward, with Mount operating further upfront. The front three gets narrow, linking up with one-touch football and with someone like Abraham leading the charge, they do indeed have an ideal combination.
However, Werner, in that regard, could add much more bite into the side, especially on the counter.
It is already well established that the Premier League teams are now offering very space to the possession-based sides. In fact, most of the clubs, who enjoy playing with possession, have found counter-attacks to be an effective source of goals. Werner can thus exploit the English sides with his fantastic movements and spatial awareness.
Meanwhile, the German international is perhaps underrated for his strategic hold-up play and those trademark one-touch pass and runs in behind the backline. His rather slender figure, when compared to other Bundesliga attackers, seems to engender the common confusion regarding his physical attributes, which is well above average.
And with tactically astute players like Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount offering support with their clever movements, he can surely have no difficulties in identifying spaces to run into.
In the following clip, we can witness Werner’s strength, speed and effective touches that could make him a tailor-made fit for the fast-paced nature of the football that the Premier League is renowned for.
A gamble or a masterstroke?
It is pretty reasonable to think that the potential signing of Werner could be a masterstroke from Chelsea. As iterated earlier, the ex-Stuttgart starlet fits into Lampard’s attack-oriented gameplay at Stamford Bridge and he could potentially create a formidable offensive unit alongside the likes of Abraham, Mount and Ziyech.
A key factor behind the signing of Werner is that he is only 24, meaning the German has time on his side. He can, therefore, emerge as a long-term solution to Chelsea’s attacking problems. But perhaps more importantly, a fee of just £49 million is a steal for a player of his calibre, especially in today’s market.
Although the ongoing Coronavirus crisis has inflicted massive economic damage in every football club in Europe, Werner’s impressive track record, experience and tactical astuteness could help the Blues move one step closer towards a massive rebuild, as they look to restore their glory in English football.