After a relatively quiet week of transfer news, Thursday saw one of the biggest shock deals of the year. Out of absolutely nowhere, RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner was reported to be going to Chelsea, as they prepare to trigger his €60m release clause this summer.
The deal is an unbelievable one for Blues fans, and a remarkable turn of events for the 24-year-old forward. Supposedly Liverpool bound after an electric season in the Bundesliga, he now looks set to be snubbing the Champions League winners for the west London club.
One of the hottest prospects in Europe, Werner is a sought-after striker for a reason. He has 31 goals this season, with 25 in the Bundesliga alone. That puts him second in the German goalscoring charts – only four short of Robert Lewandowski, who has scored goals at a stupendous rate in recent years.
RB Leipzig are on track for their best ever season, but it’s clear that they wouldn’t be third in the league without Werner. His goals have won Die Roten Bullen 15 points throughout the season, and the club would be sixth without his goals, 24 points off Bayern Munich and battling for a Europa League spot.
The German’s current release clause is €60m, a bargain in today’s transfer market. The clause expires on 15 June – which is why he is in such high demand now – and Chelsea can buy him for a fantastic price. Werner would be the club’s fourth most expensive ever, behind Álvaro Morata and just ahead of Fernando Torres.
Who can complain that £54m is excessive for one of the most in-form strikers in the world? Not Chelsea, that’s for sure.
Werner’s goal tally is well clear of Chelsea’s current strikers, double of Tammy Abraham’s 15 goals this season. In fact, he has more goals than Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi combined – you can even add Mason Mount’s six goals, and they still don’t surpass Werner’s incredible record for the season.
Chelsea have been lacking a top-class striker for years, ever since the controversial ousting of Diego Costa in 2017. Morata filled his boots at first, but it wasn’t to be for the Spaniard who struggled with confidence issues throughout his time at the club.
Abraham could be the next Drogba, but why not add another brilliant striker? The 22-year-old could do with the competition and the support of Werner, while greatly boosting Lampard’s forward options for the new season. He is a deadly striker, something Chelsea have been missing, and would be a welcome addition in SW6.
There may seem to be no cons in Werner joining Chelsea, but look deeper and you’ll find some flaws.
Werner’s talents cannot be faulted, but he is not the priority position for the Blues. Chelsea already have a promising goalscorer in Abraham, who is showing huge potential for the future after 15 goals in his full debut season so far. He has developed so much this season, but what would it be good for if he was exiled to the bench for the new campaign?
It would be a shame to see Abraham forced into a rotation role, earning less gametime and less opportunities to prove his worth at Stamford Bridge. His breakthrough has been a result of Chelsea’s youth revolution, a beautiful sight for all Blues fans. But if he is going to be replaced as the first-choice striker just a year later, what was the point?
What was the point of promoting and playing youth players – something Chelsea fans have yearned for since the turn of the century – only to go buy a foreign export to replace them after an excellent season?
Some have argued for a two-striker system, yet forget that Chelsea haven’t started two strikers all season. You have to go back to May 2018 to find the last time the Blues used a forward duo, a season in which they finished fifth in the league. Sure, Drogba formed a formidable partnership with Nicholas Anelka – almost a decade ago. It’s not part of Lampard’s managerial philosophy, or the style of play of this decade’s Chelsea.
€60m is a hard price to turn down for such an established striker, but it’s not the priority investment needed. Rather than spend €60m on a striker, Chelsea should be improving a defence that needs improved ASAP. The numbers don’t lie: they’ve only kept clean sheets in 20.7% of their league games, conceding the most goals in the top seven.
Many will argue that Werner can also play on the left wing, yet he’s only started 12.5% of games there. He has 0.6 goals per game there – an impressive figure, but quite a distance short of the 0.81 goals per game scored when he’s leading the line. Why would you sign one of the best strikers in the Bundesliga to shove him out wide?
What’s clear is that there are two sides to the coin of Timo Werner, both offering valid arguments as to why he should/shouldn’t join Chelsea. He’s a talented, clinical, proven striker whose goals would be welcomed, but also threatens to tarnish the youth revolution, causes a lineup dilemma for Lampard and doesn’t address the real need to sign defenders.
The debate on whether Chelsea is the club for Werner will burn on, but what is certain is that he is a brilliant footballer. He has huge potential and talent, and is one of the most chased strikers in Europe for very good reason. Wherever he goes, Werner will have a successful career.
Will that be at Stamford Bridge? We’ll find out soon.