WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES

There and back again, by Timo Werner

Sometimes a player returning to a former club is met with an air of caution, for the attempt to relive the past can be a dangerous game, and ultimately it proves to be a solely romantic move which never quite made sense… but Timo Werner going back to RB Leipzig? Well, initially at least, it makes perfect sense.
World Cup
Werner ruled out of World Cup in blow to Germany
03/11/2022 AT 15:53
Werner tore it up at Leipzig from 2016 to 2020 and for his efforts he sealed a big-money move to Chelsea, with a transfer to a major European club always looking inevitable given his haul of 78 goals in 127 Bundesliga games at Leipzig – and 93 in all competitions.
And so, he came to England, he saw the difficulty in holding down a starting spot at Chelsea, and in the end he didn’t quite conquer the Premier League, ending a two-year spell with 23 goals in 89 appearances – the same tally as Kai Havertz, it has rightly been noted.
But thankfully for Werner at 26 he gets to chance to press the reset button and rebuild with the majority of his career still ahead of him. Not every player gets that opportunity after sealing their Big Transfer, and he is far from being a bad player. Heck, he seemed to do everything right until finally through on goal, and there was always a sense he was just games away from a confidence-boosting run of goals, but for that you need regular football – which he just wasn’t going to get at Chelsea – and a little more fortune.
What awaits him is a Champions League season where no doubt fate will pit Leipzig against Chelsea in the group stages, and with Benjamin Sesko for company – as well as Christopher Nkunku and Andre Silva – there is an impressive strength to the German side’s attack.
Werner also has a little goal in mind, seven more goals to be precise. “I want to become the first Leipzig player to reach the 100-goal mark," he said.
That should happen this season, well let’s hope it does, anyway.

Positive progress for Man Utd?

Does that… dare we say it… go down as a good day for Manchester United?
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, given they missed out on signing now-RB Leipzig’s Sesko (bad), but after sacking off their Marko Arnautovic pursuit (good) over the pricetag and backlash from fans (fair), they have stepped up their interest in PSV’s Cody Gakpo instead (good!).
The 23-year-old shares the same agency as Erik ten Hag, in case you actually thought Manchester United would have actually scouted someone who didn’t actually play or have a link with their manager, but on the whole Gakpo looks a far more promising prospect.
It does not exactly resolve their need for another centre-forward, but the PSV academy product is 23, not 33, for a start, and he broke into the Netherlands squad last year after an impressive 2021-22 campaign.
So yes, it does indeed sound too good to be true, and we fancy the below news as a reason why United will not count this as a done deal yet – because PSV are oh so very close to the Champions League group stages, where, as you’ll know, United are not.

Warra comeback from Rangers

Down… but not out, Rangers completed a quality comeback last night to keep their Champions League dream alive. Having lost the first leg 2-0 to Union SG, a mighty turnaround was needed at Ibrox, and Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side delivered just that thanks to James Tavernier, Antonio Colak and Malik Tillman.
It makes for a mouth-watering play-off clash against Cody Gakpo’s PSV Eindhoven (Yes! That guy from above! No, not heaven… the section above in this Warm-Up), with a place in the group stages on the line. It has been 12 years since Rangers made it to the Champions League proper, and what they would give for a return this autumn.
That is arguably the pick of the play-offs, but if you want to make your hipster pick now and follow their journey, try and pick winners from the following:
  • Qarabag v Viktoria Plzen
  • Bodo/Glimt v Dinamo Zagreb
  • Maccabi Haifa v Red Star Belgrade
  • Copenhagen v Trabzonspor
  • Dynamo Kyiv v Benfica
  • Rangers v PSV Eindhoven
All aboard the Qarabag of love.

IN OTHER NEWS

Villa buy a Lioness

You hear about England’s starting left-back at Euro 2022 who is now expected to play up front for Aston Villa? Well you have now, with Rachel Daly making the move from Houston Dash to Villa yesterday.
Daly became a familiar figure for those watching the Lionesses over the summer, deployed by Sarina Wiegman at full-back in each and every game en route to glory.
Villa Women’s boss Carla Ward, however, has different ideas after signing the 30-year-old, who is basically an all-conquering superstar capable of playing wherever she likes.
“Having performed admirably at full-back this summer, she showed us that she is a player you simply need in your team,” said Ward. “But for us, she is a forward and we can’t wait to see her scoring goals.”
We’ll see what Ward is made of back in the WSL from September, with Villa first up against Brighton on September 11.

IN THE CHANNELS

The atmosphere at Boca Juniors… La Bombonera is quite literally rocking.
Looks like a must for football fans, and as Fry once said on Futurama – to be forever remembered as a meme – “Shut up and take my money!”

COMING UP

The Super Cup! Champions League winners Real Madrid take on Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt in … roll the European city wheel of fortune … Helsinki! Fun for all, although mainly Real, you’d imagine.
Transfers
Werner secures RB Leipzig return from Chelsea on permanent deal
09/08/2022 AT 16:43
Transfers
Werner set for RB Leipzig return as permanent deal agreed - reports
07/08/2022 AT 12:09