Timo Werner: What role will the German attacker play at RB Leipzig?
Timo Werner, a German attacker, should reintegrate into RB Leipzig with ease.
Timo Werner returned to RB Leipzig after playing for Chelsea and winning the UEFA Champions League. ClevPicks looks at how Domenico Tedesco will use the German striker.
Werner, 26, spent four years with Leipzig between 2016 and 2020, making 156 appearances in competitive play and contributing 90 goals and 40 assists. He produced his greatest effort in the 2019–20 season, finishing second (28) only to Robert Lewandowski (34) in Bundesliga goals scored.
Werner was typically employed as a center striker under Ralph Hasenhüttl, Ralf Rangnick, and Julian Nagelsmann. Whether performing alone or as a front two, the outcome was rather resounding. The former VfB Stuttgart player scored 80 goals in 136 games while playing in his favorite position, accounting for 88.8% of his total tally while wearing the red and white of Leipzig.
On a sliding scale for productivity, Werner was most effective when playing second striker, when he scored 11 goals in as many games. Additionally, he scored three goals in nine attempts on the left wing and one in two on the right. His assists all but one came from center strikers.
The adaptability of Werner's time at Chelsea is similarly demonstrated. As a center striker, he contributed directly to 28 goals in 56 games, compared to 10 in 20 as a left winger, 6 in 7 as a second striker, and 1 in 4 on the right side of the attack.
In 52 appearances at the international level, Werner has scored all 24 of his goals when positioned front and center. He has started every game with the exception of three since Hansi Flick took over in a central position, and his eight goals make him the leading scorer in the post-Joachim Löw era.
Werner is expected to be Germany's No. 9 of choice in the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Werner is not a traditional No. 9, either. Leipzig's club record scorer combines the speed of a winger with the inventiveness of a No. 10 and the knack for scoring of a striker to be effective running from deep, in off the wings, or buzzing about off the shoulder of a more conventional center-forward. As a result, he may fit into a number of tactical configurations.
For current Leipzig coach Tedesco, Werner is such a desirable option because of his adaptability. The 36-year-old German-Italian usually prefers a three-man defense with a line of four in the middle, topped by a flexible, adaptable, and occasionally interchangeable attacking trio.
Christopher Nkunku has emerged as the star of the show after amassing 20 goals and 13 assists in the Bundesliga by himself last season. In his childhood, he played as a center midfielder but is now more used as a free-roaming false No. 9, as shown in the second half of the 2022 Supercup and on Bundesliga Matchday 1. Both goals were scored by the 2021/22 Bundesliga Player of the Season.
Since Werner's last time at Leipzig, Christopher Nkunku has improved as a player.
In the Supercup loss to Bayern Munich, attacking midfielders Emil Forsberg and Dominik Szoboszlai began with Nkunku before being substituted by Andre Silva and playmaker Dani Olmo. In the 1-1 draw with VfB Stuttgart a week later, the latter duo teamed Leipzig's talisman from the start, suggesting Tedesco's favoured front three.
A change might very possibly result from Werner's presence. After all, he had previously teamed up with Nkunku and Olmo while supporting the uncompromising nature of centre-forward Yussuf Poulsen. Silva has subsequently surpassed Poulsen in the pecking order, but Werner continues to be the ideal match for Leipzig's diverse offensive strategies.
Werner benefits the most from the 3-4-2-1/ 3-4-1-2 formation that Tedesco's Leipzig are known for. The Germany striker will need to move about the half gaps in front of the opposing defense regardless of where he lines up on paper. Here, he can use his lightning speed to go alone or lure out a midfielder and open a space for a forward-moving teammate. Even Bayern's "Road Runner" Alphonso Davies would find it difficult to keep up when Leipzig is led by him on the counterattack.
In all competitions, Werner produced a career-high 34 goals and 13 assists while participating in a similar system under Nagelsmann's direction in 2019–20. It shouldn't take Turbo Timo long to refind top gear while working with local game-changer Nkunku and one from the likes of Silva and Olmo in Tedesco's overhaul.
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