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Timo Werner: Why the RB Leipzig striker is in demand
Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City have all been linked with the 24-year-old, who has a £52m release clause
Last Updated: 29/04/20 12:43pm
The speculation over Timo Werner's future intensified last week with the news that he is "ready to sign for Liverpool" if his £52m release clause is met. His name has long been linked with the European champions and they are not the only Premier League club said to be monitoring him.
It is hardly surprising that he is a player in demand. Over the course of the last four years with RB Leipzig, the 24-year-old has established himself as one of the most exciting young players in the Bundesliga.
This season has been his best yet, with 27 goals scored in 36 games so far, taking his overall total for RB Leipzig to 88 in 150 appearances. For the German national side, he boasts a total of 11 goals in 29 games.
His RB Leipzig tally for this season includes four goals in the Champions League, one of which came during Leipzig's 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in February.
Werner certainly played like he was eager to prove a point on English soil that night in north London, scoring coolly from the penalty spot in the second half and causing Spurs major problems throughout with his explosive speed and movement across the front line. Jose Mourinho's side were fortunate, in fact, that he only breached them once. He was similarly impressive during the 3-0 win back in Germany that secured Leipzig's passage to the last eight.
The right fit for Liverpool
Werner has made no secret of his desire to move to Liverpool. In an interview with Sky in Germany before the emergence of last week's reports, he described Jurgen Klopp as "the best coach in the world", adding: "There are many things that would suggest my style of play might be a good fit."
It is understood that Werner is not currently seen as a priority for the Reds, but it is certainly true that he looks a good fit for them. His talent is such that he might even be able to challenge Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for a place in Klopp's starting line-up.
His biggest strength is his clinical finishing ability. Since his move from Stuttgart to RB Leipzig at the start of the 2016/17 season, only Robert Lewandowski has scored more Bundesliga goals. It's the context in which he has thrived, however, that is most pertinent to Liverpool.
Like the Reds under Klopp, RB Leipzig play modern, high-intensity football under Julian Nagelsmann with an emphasis on counter attacks. It is an approach Werner fits perfectly. His speed and directness in transition can be devastatingly effective. According to Opta, he ranks top for both shots and goals from fast breaks in the Bundesliga this season.
The majority of Werner's goals have come from the central striking position this season, but he is tactically flexible - RB Leipzig have used nine different formations in the Bundesliga this season - and he is also comfortable playing in wide positions, particularly when cutting inside from the left.
A statistical comparison with Salah underlines his effectiveness. In fact, the underlying numbers show that Werner has outperformed the Egyptian this season in terms of expected goals, averaging 0.57 xG per 90 minutes compared to Salah's 0.45. He is slightly behind Salah for touches in the opposition box, but he matches him for dribbles.
One area in which Salah comes out on top, however, is in off-the-ball pressing. According to StatsBomb data, Salah has averaged 18 pressures to Werner's 14 per 90 minutes this season and wins possession from those situations nearly twice as frequently as the German.
Werner might need to step up his off-the-ball efforts if he ends up at Anfield, then, but there can be no concerns over his work-rate. On the contrary, he has impressed Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig with his determination and desire to improve. "He's an outstanding guy," he said, "very clear in his mind and he knows how to assess himself. You can tell him what's good and bad and he doesn't take it personally."
An enticing option for other suitors
Another factor in Werner's favour is his age. The forward has already amassed closed to 300 senior appearances since making his professional debut for Stuttgart in 2013, but he only turned 24 last month.
His suitors will be confident that his best is yet to come and his profile is sure to be appealing to Manchester United as well as Liverpool. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have shown considerable attacking improvement following the January arrivals of Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo, but there is still room for reinforcements in the central striking position.
Solskjaer has spoken repeatedly about United's need for a finisher who can score the "tap-ins and ugly goals", and while Ighalo has provided a short-term solution to the problem, it's easy to see why they might favour Werner for the long term. This season, all but two of his Bundesliga goals have come from inside the box.
Manchester City could also be tempted to make a move for him as they begin to plan for life after Sergio Aguero, who turns 32 this summer, and there have been reports of interest from Chelsea too.
Frank Lampard has already bolstered his attack with a deal for Ajax's Hakim Ziyech, but a new striker to rival Tammy Abraham for a starting spot is likely to be next on his list.
With his £52m release clause due to expire in the middle of June, there are sure to be more developments on Werner's future in the weeks and months ahead. What's already certain is that he has plenty to offer the Premier League's elite.