Linked by numerous news outlets to be on Klopp’s shopping list and keen on a move, Jack Hallows analyses the likelihood of Timo Werner arriving at Anfield this summer and whether he’d fit the bill.
With higher profile names such as Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Romelu Lukaku supposedly itching for moves this summer, Timo Werner has flown under the radar for many fans.
With 13 Bundesliga goals to his name in 23 games, the pacy front man has been vital to Leipzig’s remarkable campaign and would be a shrewd addition to Liverpool’s squad should rumours be correct that he’s on Jürgen Klopp’s shopping list.
Pace, potential and an eye for goal
At just 21 years of age with pace and work rate to boot, Werner fits the Jürgen Klopp transfer profile perfectly and for a man his age, he has a wealth of first team experience.
The forward made his Bundesliga debut for former club VfB Stuttgart at just 17 years of age back in 2013 and has played 30+ league games every season since. 13 goals in 95 games for his former club is nothing to write home about but at his age, any first team football he was playing was all about gaining experience and he’s used it to great effect this season, netting 13 times in 23 Bundesliga games and providing four assists for teammates.
Above all, Werner’s pace and understanding of the importance of work rate would be a massive asset to the Reds and give them another option to play off the shoulder of the last defender up front. The German uses his pace consistently as a weapon to burst past defenders and get on the end of through balls, scoring most of his goals in a poacher-like manner.
While the forward is predominantly right footed, he’s also more than capable of netting on his weaker left side and with his head, scoring four weak footed goals and one headed finish so far this season. Even when not scoring, Werner boasts an impressive shot accuracy of 61%, meaning he tests the goalkeeper far more often than missing the target. For further reference, this means he has a better shot accuracy than all of Liverpool’s non-penalty taking first choice XI aside from Sadio Mané and Adam Lallana (both 64%).
Does Werner suit Liverpool?
Personally, I think Werner has real potential to be a very good fit at Liverpool Football Club but he’ll definitely have to improve on certain aspects of his game to do so. Most glaringly, the German will need to up his passing accuracy considerably to be a key part in Liverpool’s front line.
The current first choice three of Mané, Firmino and Coutinho have a combined average pass accuracy of 80% – this is far higher than Werner’s 66% – and have created 43, 47 and 56 chances for teammates respectively – a considerable amount higher than Werner’s 25.
Of course, this is down to all three being considered ‘goalscoring playmakers’ rather than out and out forwards while despite all of his other traits, Werner is still very much a striker and goalscorer first and foremost. This is evident most in the fact that his conversion rate of shots to goals (30%) is double that of Roberto Firmino (15%) and Philippe Coutinho (14%).
It’s also worth raising the height debate once again as well. Standing at roughly 180cm tall, Werner is the same height as Roberto Firmino and while he has a lot more pace and is arguably slightly more agile, he wouldn’t go very far in terms of adding physicality to the Reds front line. This wouldn’t be an issue against bigger sides who look to come at the Reds but we’ve seen Liverpool resort to crossing far too often this season against smaller sides who look to sit deep, a game plan they’ll have to consider alternating if Werner does don a Reds shirt next season.
His height and passing aside, however, everything else about Werner does sound very promising. His ability to put the ball in the back of the net is first and foremost very important and add to that the extra pace he would provide the Reds with on the break and all of a sudden counter-attacks become an even deadlier part of our game.
Having experience playing on the wings also means Werner is adept at positional fluidity – something that has brought Liverpool major success across their front three this season. His ability to interchange positions with his teammates and drift wide – often to the right – before darting centrally at pace when the ball arrives in the box is an asset that Klopp would likely be keen on taking the utmost advantage of.
If Leipzig do continue on their current trajectory and finish in the Champions League spots, it’ll serve only to drive Werner’s market value up and a player who at present would be a real bang-for-buck signing might suddenly become slightly overpriced.
There is also the issue that if the Reds themselves don’t manage to secure Champions League football, Klopp’s pedigree may not be enough to make him leave Leipzig after just one season. With very little other suitors linked to his signature, however, it’s hard to see any other glaring stumbling blocks to signing the player.
Suitability: 9/10 – Likelihood: 8/10
Other summer shortlist profiles: Virgil Van Dijk