There was a real reason to celebrate on the King’s Road this week, as it turned out that RB Leipzig and German star Timo Werner are ready to move to Chelsea this summer.
Previously linked to Bayern Munich and Liverpool, Werner would be quite the hit for Frank Lampard’s Blues, who are expected to shell out £ 54 million to buy the diminutive striker from his current contract.
Even in the post-coronavirus market, this can turn out to be a small sum for one of the top scorers in Europe. Especially for a striker who, at 24, is only improving.
Chelsea expects to pay £ 54 million to recruit RB Leipzig and German striker Timo Werner this summer
Werner was prolific in the Bundesliga and scored his 31st goal of the season on Monday
It is sometimes easy to forget that Werner is only a few months after his 24th birthday. In the seven years since his professional debut, the scintillating forward has scored 88 Bundesliga goals, locked a spot on the national team and has grown from a figure of national hatred to one of the most admired from Europe. For a seemingly modest personality, the career has been quite eventful so far.
“I’m just a normal schoolboy,” said a teenager Werner with his sweet taste when he appeared at VfB Stuttgart almost a decade ago.
On the ground, however, he was anything but ordinary. Blessed with caricatural acceleration and a devastating finish, he scored three times in his first ten games as the club’s youngest debutant.
Werner had announced himself as a “normal schoolboy” in Stuttgart but proved anything but
Werner scored 88 Bundesliga goals and became admired leader
Werner’s father Guenther Schuh had also been a professional striker, but with only one goal in 21 second-level games for the Stuttgarter Kickers, he was perhaps not the brightest idol for the youngster.
Instead, Werner admired Stuttgart legend Mario Gomez, announcing himself to be Germany’s next big strike talent as Gomez’s career began to wane.
“Timo is incredibly fast, has a brutal nose for the goal and a great finish. He doesn’t hesitate and he can score with his right foot, his left foot and his head, “said his teammate and Bayern star Joshua Kimmich last year.
Kimmich would know. A graduate of the Stuttgart Academy, he grew up alongside Werner from the age of 13, taking his A levels at the same school and making the jump to Leipzig a few years earlier.
Werner idolized Stuttgart and German legend Mario Gomez (photo on the touchline)
Joshua Kimmich grew up alongside Werner from the age of 13 and praised the attacker’s ability
However, while Kimmich had to plow his own furrow in peace, Werner’s move east has almost ruined his career. Having deified him as one of their own, the devotees of Stuttgart never forgave him for leaving, especially for the most hated club in Germany.
This disgust then spread like wildfire. After a glaring dive against Schalke in late 2016, anti-Werner songs filled German stadiums for months. At only 21, the attacker turned to a sports psychologist for help.
“He told me that I can silence anyone who doesn’t like me by doing one thing: score,” Werner told Focus magazine.
And mark that he did. As leader of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s new Leipzig team, he led the club of the new rich to successive years in the Champions League and recovered as a player to be saluted, not vilified.
Werner has become part of the success of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s new Leipzig team
Since joining Leipzig in 2016, he has scored no less than 92 goals in all competitions. This season, he is on the heels of Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga gold boot race.
Although in some ways as bland as ever – he would drive the same car he had when he was 18 and once shared a kebab with Besiktas fans after a Champions League match – Werner became relentlessly safe of his own abilities in Leipzig. Last season, he started flirting openly with Bayern, saying they were “the only club in Germany” where he would consider moving.
However, the champions finally lost interest. As former classmate Kimmich has pointed out in the past, Werner’s play is arguably more suited to Leipzig’s football style, more direct and smashing than Bayern’s method of suffocating his opponents.
Werner opted for a move that will give him playing time under a coach ready to trust him
The departure of several forwards at Chelsea will allow Werner to flourish and play a leading role
In this sense, there are good reasons to think that he will fit in perfectly with Chelsea. The departure of players such as Pedro and Willian will leave room for the German to flourish and play a leading role in a young team, as he did in Leipzig.
“Werner can grow alongside the new generation at Chelsea,” wrote Focus this week.
Rather than getting frustrated on the bench at Liverpool or Bayern, he opted for playing time under a coach ready to trust him. It would not be the first smart move Timo Werner made in his eventful career, and it may not be the last.