Chelsea have staked a lot on Timo Werner.
With the transfer fee, the agent fee and wages over the course of his five-year deal, the Germany international striker’s move from RB Leipzig will cost the Blues in the region of £102.5m.
So what will Chelsea be getting for their investment? Why did a move to Liverpool never materialise? And how will he fit into Frank Lampard’s side?
The Liverpool deal that never happened
Werner was linked with a move to Liverpool for months.
The 24-year-old forward and his agent were in talks with Liverpool, who made him their main transfer target to deepen the options in their three-man attack, rating him higher than Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, among others.
Werner even video-conferenced with Jurgen Klopp during Easter and on at least one other occasion, but the negotiations went cold in late April, not because the manager was suddenly doubtful about his qualities, but because Liverpool were unwilling to trigger the £45m release clause.
Instead, the Premier League leaders intended to negotiate with RB Leipzig about a fee reduction.
Moreover, Werner demanded a substantial financial package and guaranteed playing time, which seemed rather unlikely given he would have battled with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane for a spot in Liverpool’s starting XI.
Klopp’s plan was to slowly integrate Werner into the team and then give him a starting spot in January when Mane and Mohamed Salah would play at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Leipzig were not willing to go into talks with Liverpool about an alternative transfer arrangement. “It won’t get any cheaper,” RB Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff said recently. “We will not sell a player below value if he is under contract for more than a year.”
Chelsea will almost double Werner’s salary
Last year, Werner was linked with a move to Bayern Munich which ultimately fell through because the Bundesliga champions were not fully convinced his price tag of about £22m was justified. Atletico Madrid also showed interest in him.
Shortly before the end of the summer transfer window, Werner signed a three-year extension with Leipzig, preventing his contract from expiring this year and making sure the club weren’t left empty-handed.
And then along came Chelsea, offering a weekly wage of around £175,000 – almost doubling his current salary – and a £12m fee to his agent Karlheinz Forster, taking the total outlay to more than £100m.
Werner and Forster went to Leipzig’s offices on Wednesday, 3 June for a brief 20-minute conversation with club officials, informing Leipzig about their intention of finalising a move to London.
It took until now for the deal to be announced officially because Chelsea went into negotiations with Leipzig about a payment plan.
The move means Werner will not feature for Leipzig when the Champions League is concluded in August.
Werner and Abraham partnership?
It is difficult to assess what sort of character Chelsea will be getting in Werner. It took him years to come out of his shell and show a defined personality in interviews and, for the most part, he keeps his head down and focuses on his performances.
He is respected and even well-liked in Leipzig, but team-mates usually only emphasise his value as a player.
An incident in December 2016, during a match against Schalke, earned him a negative reputation. Werner admitted he dived to win a penalty in the match but tried to justify his actions by saying he was fouled moments before.
He was met with boos, whistles, and obscene gestures at every away game he played for years.
The Premier League will offer a chance to shrug off that negative reception in a team that is likely to see him partnered with Tammy Abraham in attack.
When he started his senior career at Stuttgart, Werner was occasionally used on the left wing before moving into the centre permanently. He has also repeatedly played as a winger for Germany’s national team in recent years because head coach Joachim Low values Werner’s speed over his ability to be the target player up front.
However, Julian Nagelsmann, who joined Leipzig as head coach in 2019, saw more potential in Werner being a striker who would move into the midfield and act as the temporary number 10.
Early on in the season, he asked Werner to drop back on occasions and engage in passing plays instead of hanging on the shoulder of the last defender all the time.
He no doubt brings impressive statistics to the Chelsea line-up – he has scored 26 goals and provided eight assists in 32 league games this season – and he will offer Lampard the option of playing in a 4-4-2 alongside Abraham or out wide in a front three.
Time will tell if his contribution will be enough to turn the Blues into title contenders.