The Timo Werner links are back. According to reports in Germany, Liverpool are one a host of clubs keeping close tabs on the RB Leipzig forward after his explosive start to the season. Under new manager Julian Nagelsmann, the Germany international looks more dangerous than ever before and already has 12 goal involvements in just ten Bundesliga matches.
It’s not the first time the Reds have been linked with the 23-year-old and you can’t see it being the last if he keeps on finding the back of the net. Since the move to the Red Bull Arena in the summer of 2016, Werner has found the back of the net on 59 occasions in the Bundesliga, averaging a goal every 140 minutes across three and a bit seasons.
Journalist Raphael Honigstein fanned those flames recently, too, when he claimed Werner would be an ideal signing for the European champions.
Speaking on Reach plc’s Transfer Window podcast, Honigstein talked up why the former VfB Stuttgart man could well be a target: “Absolutely (he would perfectly fit Liverpool). I think he would be the ideal supplement to the front three. He is very similar in terms of his movement, in terms of his positioning to what they’ve already got. Different player. More of a striker than perhaps Mohamed Salah.
“He would fit them easily and I think that is why people in Germany were surprised they never pushed for him this summer.”
With talk of Rhian Brewster heading out on loan in January, there could well be a space in the squad to bring in attacking reinforcements. A deal for Werner during the winter window is unlikely but not impossible.
We’re perhaps getting slightly ahead of ourselves now but where would the prolific German fit into the Liverpool team?
Since the switch to RB Leipzig, Werner has been used in a two-man strike force. This set-up allows him to roam with him not really having to be the focal point of the attack. He can often be found on the left-hand-side of the pitch. He takes up a position which allows him to drift between full-back and centre-back to get on the end of through balls. Similar, in many ways, to the move made by both Salah and Sadio Mane.
But Liverpool don’t play two a two-man attack and though in-game this may occasionally happen, the Reds primarily use Roberto Firmino as their number nine with Salah leading the line if they want a bit of pace in behind.
Jurgen Klopp, however, may see Werner’s arrival as the missing jigsaw piece to allow him to use the 4-2-3-1 shape. It’s a system the Liverpool boss has turned to at times this season when in search of a goal. Divock Origi is usually brought on off the bench to play on the left with Mane switching to the right. Firmino then occupies the attacking midfield role and Salah leads the line.
Adding the 23-year-old German into the mix gives the Premier League table-toppers some options. He could start on the left, the role he played for VfB Stuttgart, and this would allow him to cut inside and get beyond play when required. It perhaps suits his skillset a little better, too. He’d be replacing Origi in the team and though the Belgian is a cult hero, it would be an upgrade.
Alternatively, he could lead the line with Mane back on the left and Salah on the right. This keeps the dynamic that has worked so well for Liverpool over recent seasons while injecting pace into the centre of the pitch. In theory, it would make the Reds more unpredictable and significantly harder to stop.
A bit of a wildcard shout would be to use Werner on the left, Salah on the right and then let Firmino and Mane rotate between the number nine and number ten position. The duo would drop and create space centrally for the wide forwards to exploit and in game, on paper at least, it would look a little like the 4-2-2-2 used by RB Leipzig.
When people look at the RB Leipzig No.11, they think of goals and pace. But what he would bring to Anfield is versatility, and it’s why he’d fit in with the existing attack. Klopp is all about multifunctional players and Werner gives him options. It allows the German tactician to shuffle players around without losing that explosiveness in certain areas like he normally does when he rejigs the forward line.
Just as Honigstein says, Werner would be perfect for this Liverpool side.