Every so often in the football cycle, a star emerges whose recruitment makes so much sense that they’re difficult for almost any club to ignore.
Whether it’s down to the career path they’ve taken, the meticulous plotting of an agent or just through undeniable talent, a player comes to prominence who looks as though success is assured no matter where they end up.
Timo Werner will be that star in the 2020 summer transfer window.
It’s not that RB Leipzig’s star forward is without fault or even the finished product—few players are at the age of 23—but the details around his likely exit from the Red Bull Arena make a deal too tempting to pass up.
It’s of little wonder Barcelona and Manchester United are reported to have already made approaches for the player, wrote Simon Hughes and Raphael Honigstein of The Athletic. As if those prospects weren’t high enough, Werner seems enamoured with the thought of working alongside German compatriot Jurgen Klopp at defending European champions Liverpool:
Leipzig appear to be willing dealers going by the £51 million release clause in Werner’s contract. That figure is available to suitors until a deadline in April, and it stands to reason that his current deal—signed in August 2019—was agreed with a view towards netting the Bundesliga title contenders a greater fee for his departure, rather than leave the club on a free transfer.
His 21 goals in the Bundesliga this season are second only to Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, already matching his career best for strikes in a single German top-flight campaign.
There isn’t a European superpower who couldn’t find a place for the attacker at that price in the current market, but the timing works better for some clubs more than others.
Bayern had been linked with Werner in what would seem a typical transfer for the Bundesliga's traditional power, though it seemed poignant Lewandowski signed a new contract at the Allianz Arena three days after Werner’s own deal was announced.
A move to Barcelona might make sense were it not for the recent emergency acquisition of Martin Braithwaite on a four-and-a-half-year deal. Not only that, but Lionel Messi suggested that Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez could be the ideal addition alongside Luis Suarez.
A move to United can almost be ruled out if we’re to assume a club will trigger the £51 million clause by its April deadline, at which point the Red Devils are highly unlikely to have secured their UEFA Champions League place–a probable deal-breaker for the player.
Any transfer to Liverpool will be met with the understanding that Werner will be fighting for a place alongside the star trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. Klopp seemed to confirm as much when asked about Werner’s bombardment of compliments regarding him and his club, saying the Reds need players “who want to fight for their spot,” per Metro.
The links to Anfield almost seem too poetic considering the Liverpool manager and Werner were each born in Stuttgart. In freeing up squad space, Xherdan Shaqiri and Adam Lallana could leave the club to open the necessary room for his arrival.
Why Target Werner?
It boosts Werner’s appeal that he’s able to play up front, as well as out wide or as a supporting striker. His age and apparent eagerness to take that next step in his career bodes well for his admirers—and he can be bought for half of one Philippe Coutinho.
Werner—who turns 24 on March 6—has scored 88 goals and recorded 38 assists in 147 appearances for Leipzig, recording a direct goal involvement every 1.17 games during his three-and-a-half years at the Red Bull Arena. Form has suffered somewhat since the turn of the year, though the need for Leipzig to adjust in that time could make a divide more seamless come the summer.
His summer prospects resemble those of Kylian Mbappe upon joining Paris Saint-Germain from AS Monaco in 2017, except Werner could be available for a third of the price. Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho may also leave the Bundesliga this summer, but his potential transfer will struggle to match the value of Werner’s possible sale.
The $25 million (€22.5 million) Borussia Dortmund initially paid to sign Erling Haaland from Red Bull Salzburg in January stands to be the best deal of 2020, but Werner could come a close second depending on the details of a potential move this summer.
Any team with the means to make a deal happen should be and probably is on high alert regarding Werner, whose flirtations with a summer transfer seem set to land him his wish.