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Timo Werner: A coup for Chelsea, but a costly mistake for Liverpool, Man United

:Headline: Timo Werner: A coup for Chelsea, but a costly mistake for Liverpool, Man United:
Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at why the signing of Timo Werner would be a huge coup for Chelsea, and a big mistake for Liverpool and Manchester United.

The future of Timo Werner has been one of the main talking points in recent months, with a host of major clubs around Europe thought to be keen on prising him away from RB Leipzig.

The coronavirus pandemic seemingly raised the chances of the 24-year-old staying with Leipzig for one more season, although it was only the financial capabilities of clubs - rather than their level of interest in the striker - which caused that to be the case.

For a long time it looked as though Anfield would be his destination; Werner publicly praised Liverpool and manager Jurgen Klopp when he was already very much on their wish list, and was understood to regard the European champions as his preferred club.

Liverpool were interested too - indeed they had made Werner their top priority and only major summer target - but their plans were affected, if not entirely scuppered, by lockdown.

The Reds refused to meet the rather modest release clause of €60m (£53.8m) and called Leipzig's bluff by saying that they were not interested in a deal unless that price tag dropped significantly, closer to £30m.

In reality, that was never likely to happen.

Just short of £54m is already cheap for a 24-year-old striker with a proven track record for scoring lots of goals at the highest level - he has 31 in all competitions this season, including 25 in just 29 Bundesliga outings - already the best-scoring year of his career.

He also averages a goal every other game in the Champions League and has netted 11 times in 29 games at international level with Germany, for whom he has been the first-choice striker for more than two years now.

Werner is not just a goalscorer either, he has weighed in with 12 assists across all competitions for Leipzig this season to take his overall tally of goal contributions to 43 in only 40 matches, including 32 in 29 league games.

In the Bundesliga, only Jadon Sancho has directly contributed to more goals; in Europe's top five leagues only Ciro Immobile and Sancho have; in the top divisions across the world, his tally is bettered by only five players.

In terms of goals scored alone, he is fourth in the world list for 2019-20, ahead of the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe.

Whatever way you look at it, without the release clause Leipzig could and would have demanded a much bigger sum for his services.

Pre-coronavirus his value may have been nearing £100m and, even post-virus, Transfermarkt - which is usually relatively cautious with its player valuations - puts his worth at £57.6m.

Chelsea, therefore, may have got themselves a bargain.

However, just because a player is a bargain, it does not mean that he is affordable for everyone, and Liverpool took the decision not to risk a significant outlay on a single player with the financial markets still so unstable due to coronavirus.

It remains entirely unclear as to when fans will be allowed back into stadiums - and therefore when clubs will begin collecting ticket revenue again.

Recent reports suggest there is optimism things could be nearing normal again in September, but it is possible that this 'new normal' the world is becoming accustomed to could go on until a coronavirus vaccine is found - something for which there is no guarantee will happen at all.

Other revenue streams have also taken a hit and, after weighing up the pros and cons, Liverpool's owners have decided that signing Werner does not warrant the risk.

It is also worth factoring in the cost of keeping Werner at the club in addition to bringing him to Anfield; Chelsea will reportedly hand him a five-year deal worth £200,00 a week - an outlay of £52m on wages alone which would have seen him immediately catapult up to be Liverpool's joint-highest earner.

The decision has drawn the ire of many Liverpool fans on social media, some inexplicably calling for the board to leave the club despite having transformed the Reds from mid-table mediocrity to champions of Europe, the world and soon England.

When it comes to Liverpool, it is impossible to argue with their recent recruitment; Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were brought in for a combined total of around £110m - according to Transfermarkt they are now worth a combined £280m.

When big money needed to be spent, Liverpool signed Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker to almost immediately transform Jurgen Klopp's side into the dominant force in England and Europe.

Even looking at the players Liverpool have missed out on in recent years tells a tale: Nabil Fekir was the one who came closest to joining before the deal collapsed, while Nicolas Pepe was also heavily linked. Klopp has coped just fine without both.

Another factor which will have no doubt entered Liverpool's head was whether Werner would even make the first-choice XI, with Salah, Firmino and Mane already one of the most feared front threes in world football.

A change of system would have probably been needed, and a change of playing style certainly, to crowbar Werner in given how differently he plays the game to Firmino.

While Firmino drops deep to pull the strings and allow space for Salah and Mane to race in behind with arching runs, Werner's own electric pace means that he prefers playing off the shoulder of the last man and would likely inhabit the same space from which Salah and Mane have been so productive.

That is not to say that Werner would have struggled to fit in at Liverpool - a player of his quality would have no doubt improved a team already regarded as the best in the world - but it would have altered how the Reds play.

Given that they are 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League, and coupled with the financial risk, it is easy to see why the board chose not to pursue Werner - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

It is perhaps more difficult to understand why Manchester United have also cleared the way for Chelsea to sign him, given their long and sometimes desperate hunt for a centre-forward to replace Romelu Lukaku, who left last summer.

The January arrival of Odion Ighalo has proven to be a shrewd one with the benefit of hindsight, but that scramble to find a striker in the closing stages of the last transfer window suggests that he was far from their top target.

Ighalo's loan stint is not coming cheaply either, and on January 31 he is set to leave the Red Devils, meaning that they will need to bring in a striker either this summer or in January to avoid playing half a season back where they were for the opening half of the current campaign.

United's priorities lie elsewhere - namely the expensive signing of Jadon Sancho - but they are expected to make at least one other fairly major acquisition this summer, with a central midfielder and central defender thought to be their main targets in addition to winger and centre-forward.

With Paul Pogba returning, Bruno Fernandes having arrived in January and the likes of Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay impressing this season, central midfield looks much less urgent than centre-forward, despite persistent links with the likes of Saul Niguez, Jack Grealish and James Maddison.

The same is true at centre-back, where Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have established a solid partnership, while Chris Smalling, who has impressed on loan at Roma, could come back into the fold next term.

United do, of course, have Anthony Martial and highly-rated youngster Mason Greenwood alongside Ighalo as centre-forward options, while Marcus Rashford is also at home through the middle, but a cut-price deal for a player of Werner's quality appeared to make a lot of sense.

The 20-time champions have not had a 30-goal striker since Robin van Persie in 2012-13 - the last time they won the league - and with other pieces of the jigsaw slowly falling into place it could be one of the final aspects needed to turn United into title contenders again.

Thirty-goal strikers from top European leagues very rarely come on the market, and it is even more uncommon to see them do so for below their valuation and at such a good age - Werner could have realistically led the United line for close to a decade.

As far as Chelsea are concerned, the addition of Werner adds to an already exciting and youthful front three which is shaping up.

Chelsea's last starting lineup before lockdown featured a front three of Willian, Olivier Giroud and Pedro, all of whom have enjoyed long careers at the highest level and are seasoned international and Premier League players, but all of whom are also the wrong side of 30.

Giroud, who has just signed a one-year contract extension, looks like being the only one of that trio who will still be there next season.

Instead, Lampard could field a front three of 19-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, 21-year-old Christian Pulisic and 24-year-old Werner, with 22-year-old Tammy Abraham in support.

Also waiting in the wings would be 21-year-old Mason Mount, 24-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Werner's fellow summer arrival Hakim Ziyech, who at 27 would suddenly find himself as one of the elder statesmen of the Chelsea attack.

On paper, with this season's promising youngsters - and manager Frank Lampard - having another year under their belts, that is a squad which may not be a million miles away from challenging for the title.

Werner's arrival will no doubt stunt some of the playing time Abraham enjoys despite his breakthrough campaign, but on the flip side it will also take some of the goalscoring burden off his shoulders while giving him the chance to learn from a world-class performer.

It is also important to note where Werner's goals have come and how important they have been - the headline figure of 25 in Bundesliga and 31 across all competitions is impressive, but less so if they have all effectively added icing on top of matches which have already been won.

The Germany international stacks up well in that department too, though, with his goals earning Leipzig 15 points this term - without them they would effectively be out of the Champions League race.

Only Robert Lewandowski has scored more winning goals, only two players have scored a higher proportion of their team's goals and no player - in Europe's top five leagues rather than just the Bundesliga - can match his tally of 15 goals away from home.

Incredibly, that is as many goals as Manchester United's entire squad has managed away from home in the Premier League this season.

Add Werner's away tally to the Red Devils and suddenly only Man City have scored more on their travels, while United will have undoubtedly picked up more than the 16 points they have managed away from home - the main weakness in their push for a top-four spot this season.

It is a rather crude equation, but if you were to also add the 15 points Werner's goals have won for Leipzig to Chelsea and United respectively then both sides would shoot up to second place.

It appears as though Chelsea will have a clear path to Werner now - the only way the deal will not go through is if either party backs out - and his signing could prove to be a telling one for the Blues, while Liverpool and Manchester United may live to regret not snapping the free-scoring striker up when they had the chance. body check tags ::

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last updated article - 2020-06-05 13:25:43:
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