What can Timo Werner add to already prolific Liverpool attack?
Background photo: Vincent Teeuwen, CC BY 2.0
Liverpool's style favours Bundesliga players. Manager Jurgen Klopp is probably to blame.
Attacks in the German top flight tend to be variants on the gegenpress the former Mainz and Borussia Dortmund boss advocates. To build a dynastic team, the Reds must prepare for life beyond Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane while the trio remains in their prime. A young striker who understands the system is imperative. Werner represents that.
Klopp prefers a striker with well-rounded skills rather than a fox in the box. Firmino's value lies in his ability to drop back for the ball and start movements as well as working the flanks and finishing in front of goal. At 22, Werner lacks the Brazilian's experience but shares his instincts.
A move away from RB Leipzig at season's end is timely but not necessary. You might think Leipzig would be reluctant to lose another player to Liverpool after Naby Keita departed this past summer. The truth is the deal was made the summer before. Liverpool agreed to leave him with the east German club another season. Perhaps a similar compromise can be reached to acquire Werner. The youngster will continue to grow in a familiar system and not stew on the bench while Firmino, five years his senior, enters his prime.
According to Transfermarkt, Werner is rated for €65 million. Liverpool shelled out more last summer to replace their goalkeeper. Inflation has caught up with the men between the sticks but strikers remain the highest ticket item in the market. Such a price represents value for the Kop but good business for the energy drinkers. Werner joined from Stuttgart in 2016 for just €14 million.
From there, it's up to the player to decide whether Liverpool is the club for him. Over the past two summers, Werner led the German line to a Confederations Cup and crashed out of the World Cup group stage. The first gave him a test of his potential. The second taught him how much more he must learn.
Several clubs want his signature. He may start regularly for some. The question is whether any manager can offer him more in terms of personal development than Klopp? The Reds boss gives his supporting cast opportunities. See how Xherdan Shaqiri thrives on the wing or Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez worked their way into heavy rotation.
A regular starter at the Red Bull Arena, Werner may demand guaranteed minutes. The clubs who agree will be ones with less to give for what they take. Players must earn minutes at the best clubs. Liverpool didn’t wake up overnight and have a front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino. It happened over time. The only guarantee an ambitious player should want is to be given opportunities.
Liverpool can use a player who can slot into all three attacking positions. Xherdan Shaqiri is strictly a winger. Daniel Sturridge is brittle and past his prime. Werner's versatility works in his favour and Klopp's. Win-win is the best deal you can make.