RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner is going to be one of the most wanted players in Europe this summer.
His dynamic attacking play sees him coveted by Bayern Munich in his homeland as well as FIVE major Premier League clubs.
But why do so many want to sign the German international this summer? To find out, we asked Total Football Analysis to cast their eyes over him and give us their opinion…
When you are developing a list of clubs who recruit and develop players intelligently then RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg will feature prominently at the top.
Both have cultivated a reputation in a relatively short period of time for making intelligent investments in younger players and giving them playing time in the first-team to help them to mature.
This philosophy of development is perhaps best showcased in the growth and performances of 24-year-old German forward Werner.
He was initially developed as a left-winger in the youth setup at VfB Stuttgart, a club with a great reputation for youth development, before moving to join RB Leipzig in 2016.
He was immediately converted to play as a striker, albeit one with a tendency to drift out to the left side, and his combination of explosive pace and accurate finishing has made him one of the most sought-after young forward players in Europe.
It is likely this will be Werner’s last season at Leipzig before he makes the move to an elite club and the likes of Liverpool and Bayern Munich appear to be in the driving seat for his signature, while Manchester United, Man City, Tottenham and Chelsea are also interested.
This tactical analysis will provide a breakdown on the player to allow us to better understand what makes Werner so sought-after.
Our first step is to use data in order to show how Werner performs alongside other high performing forward players.
In the above graph, we have compared data showing the volume of shots each player takes per 90 minutes and their expected goals (xG) over the same period.
As you can see there is a clear outlier with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski outperforming the field in both metrics.
Werner, however, also impresses with an xG of 0.62 per 90 minutes and 3.74 shots per 90.
Next, we are looking to profile the positions the forwards in question get into when in possession of the ball.
We have already stated above that Werner retains a tendency to move out to the left-hand side when his team are building out from the back, but does this mean he doesn’t get into the opposition penalty area?
Well, no. Once again in the above graph, we see Lewandowski as the outlier with his metrics.
As with our initial graph though we see that Werner is not far behind. Indeed, the young striker is averaging 6.64 touches in the opposition box. This shows that despite the wide movement he is still a constant threat in the penalty area.
Interplay with teammates
One of the biggest criticisms that was levelled at Werner at the beginning of his career was that he was a selfish player who did not interact well with teammates. This is something that is relatively common with young attacking players as they move through the development cycle. They are often used to being the best player in their group and have the ability to beat players on their own.
This is, however, no longer a criticism that can be levelled at Werner as he combines extremely well with teammates in and around the final third.
We see an example of this above as he picks up possession of the ball on the right-hand side and runs at the Hoffenheim defence.
When he was younger we would expect to see Werner cutting inside on his own before trying to shoot from the edge of the penalty area. In this example, however, he chooses to play the ball forward into space for his striker partner to move on to.
Werner then bends his run inside and on the blindside of two defensive players. The ball is easily reversed into his path and he is clear to penetrate into the penalty area for a shot.
This slight change of approach is the difference between a contested shot from the edge of the penalty area and a more clear-cut attempt inside the area.
This is a more normal position to find Werner in as he occupies the left side and looks to cut in onto his right foot.
As the left-back is looking to move forward in possession of the ball we see him make a movement out from the central space to the wing and this pulls the opposition right-back out and creates space for the man in possession to move forward.
As the ball moves into the final third the opposition defender has to make a choice and move out to engage the ball. This then creates space for Werner and the ball can be played through for the striker to take possession and penetrate the penalty area.
Intelligent positioning to receive the ball
Another aspect of the game that we have seen Werner improve in is his ability to find and identify pockets of space in the final third.
This improved understanding of the pitch as a whole allows him to take possession of the ball in good areas before turning and attacking the penalty area.
Again, we often see young players relying on their explosive pace over short areas to create separation between themselves and the opposition defenders. Whilst Werner definitely has the explosive pace he has learnt to use it in more intelligent areas.
Here is an example with RB Leipzig facing a Schalke team who have collapsed back into a deeper block as they look to deny their opponents space as they move forward.
With the ball currently being carried in the left half-space, we see Werner make a movement, initially offside, around the blind side of the defenders into a pocket of space ahead of the ball.
This movement creates a passing channel through and into the defensive block and this pass is quickly triggered.
When Werner collects the ball here he quickly spins and attacks the penalty area before getting a shot at goal.
A similar situation here as Werner again shows his ability to read the game and take up correct positions to threaten the opposition penalty area.
The ball is played high into the opposition half, to the edge of the penalty area; I have highlighted five Union Berlin players who are all close to the ball.
Every one of these defenders is focused on the ball as opposed to the movement around the ball. This allows Werner to read the space on the field to identify where the ball might drop from the upcoming duel.
As the challenge is made Werner is positioned perfectly to collect possession before shooting, and scoring.
The development that Timo Werner has shown over the last 18 months has catapulted him to the top of some of the most exclusive recruitment lists in football.
His ability and willingness to move wide to create space for teammates before exploding inside to pockets of space makes him the perfect modern forward player.
There is no doubt he will be leaving RB Leipzig in the next transfer window – the only question is which elite club will be lucky enough to secure his signature?
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