Expert view from Germany: Why Liverpool want Werner when they already have Salah, Mané and Firmino
Liverpool want Timo Werner despite already having a superb attack, and Werner is tempted… writes Eurosport Germany’s Robert Bauer.
It would be one of the biggest stories of the transfer window: Timo Werner moving to Liverpool. And that scenario does not appear to be particularly far-fetched, as the 24-year-old has been flirting with a move to Anfield for some time. But do the Reds, who already have an extraordinary offensive trio, need Werner at all?
Werner is fuelling the transfer rumours
The 24-year-old has been linked with a move to Liverpool for some time and he himself is also toying with an early departure from Leipzig. As to where his next step takes him, Werner has so far left that open:
"I think I have the potential to play in a big team. Only I believe that there will be other processes because the pressure will be much higher," said the striker, stoking the rumours about himself.
Werner submitted his CV impressively in the current season, racking up 27 goals and 12 assists in 36 games so far. And he seems to be anything but averse to joining Jürgen Klopp's team:
" Liverpool are the best team in the world at the moment. It makes me very proud to be associated with it. It's great, but I know that Liverpool have a lot of good players and I have to improve. I still have a lot to learn to get to that level and play there."
Do Liverpool really need Werner?
With that statement, Werner hit the nail on the head. Despite the great quality that he undoubtedly has, the question really arises whether Liverpool need him at all.
After all, the Reds already have a well-functioning attacking triumvirate of Mohamed Salah , Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino. And Werner would presumably have to oust the latter in order to establish himself permanently in the first XI.
Doing this could turn out to be a Herculean task for Werner, because – looking beyond the Brazilian’s underwhelming base stats of eight goals and seven assists – Firmino is a crucial piece of the puzzle in Klopp's offensive armada, linking together play and cleverly utilising space in a way that few players in the world can match.
It is no coincidence that, with Firmino in the side, Liverpool are currently one of the most dangerous teams in Europe, scoring 66 league goals already this season.
Last summer, Bayern Munich were faced with the same quandary of where to put the attacker in a starting XI that already featured a striker of with a Robert Lewandowski’s calibre. Ultimately Bayer decided against a transfer on those grounds, despite interest on Werner’s side.
A similar scenario isn’t inconceivable again in the coming transfer window. If none of Liverpool's offensive trio leave Anfield then there is little need to strengthen their front-line, leaving Werner even facing the ignominy of a place on the bench.
Liverpool could be the right step for Werner
On the other hand, this could turn out to be the perfect step for Werner, allowing him time to adapt to a new system and the way of playing in the Premier League in the shadow of the trio, without having to carry the full weight of Liverpool’s attacking expectation on his shoulders.
Added to this is the Klopp factor, under whose leadership the former Stuttgart man could mature and maximise his next stage of development. He would certainly match the playing style of the reigning European champions, who are characterised by intense pressing and high speed in attack.
To fill this rotation role Werner would "only" have to displace Divock Origi in the Liverpool pecking order. Despite his support role the Belgian has still played a third of all possible minutes in the current season (more than ex-Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita, for example).
When does the exit clause apply - and who can trigger it?
However, even if Werner was Liverpool’s prime target, the exit clause figures involved in the new contract he signed last summer (until 2023) are unknown.
According to media reports, the amount could be around the €60m figure now, but decreasing dynamically over the remainder of the contract. But "Kicker" wrote last summer that the total could be as low as €30m – which would attract attention from a host of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Another complication is that, according to reports, the exit clause for Werner must be activated by the end of April to come into effect this summer. It is questionable whether any club would feel comfortable doing that while the coronavirus pandemic causes confusion over the remainder of the season.
All things considered, Leipzig sports director Markus Krösche has not given up hope of Werner staying. He said recently:
" Timo knows what he has in us and we know what we have in him. The basic requirements to stay longer are there. You have to see what will happen in the coming weeks and months."
-- original article by Robert Bauer, translation by Tom Bennett