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Brian Hradek writes a comprehensive scouting report on Timo Werner, the RB Leipzig and Germany player.
RB Leipzig have come under a ton of criticism lately, though much of it is for their off field actions. The new “rich kids on the block” in European football have finally achieved their goal of making the Bundesliga, doing so in such a way that has been very entertaining. Instead of splashing their cash on a few older, big name players, they’ve spread out their transfer funds on a multitude of young talent. One of those talents is Timo Werner, a young man that has the potential to star not only in one of trendiest clubs in Europe right now, but also become a major factor in the German national team over the next decade.
Born and raised in Stuttgart, it didn’t take Werner long to join his boyhood club. Timo joined Stuttgart’s youth academy at the young age of 6-years-old, spending the first 11 years of his football career there. He was never a big lad as a youth player, but was extremely quick and impressed immediately. In 2011, he was given his debut for the U17 team, taking place only a few days after his 15th birthday. Stuttgart went on to win 3-0. His performance earned him a full time starting spot in the squad. He would go on to play in 34 games over the next year and a half for the U17’s, scoring 31 goals and assisting another 5.
Timo Werner really found his stride the following season after receiving his call-up to Stuttgart’s U 19 squad. His debut was breathtaking. He scored a hat trick and recorded an assist in a match that was completely taken over by Werner’s presence. He continued to show flashes of his insane potential, destroying teams with his pace and ability to run in behind defenders, the main reasons for his 24-goal season.
Talent Radar Accolades:
Appearance in Talent Radar 100 to Watch in 2016
Appearance in Talent Radar 100 to Watch in 2015
Appearance in Talent Radar 100 to Watch in 2014
It was inevitable that the hometown teenager would be apart of Stuttgart’s senior squad for the 2013/14 season. He debuted in a Europa League qualifier on August 1st as a sub, filling in as a right-winger and becoming the youngest player ever to feature for Stuttgart. A few weeks later he made his first Bundesliga appearance, coming on late in a match against Leverkusen. His first goal came a month later against Frankfurt.
For the majority of his first two seasons with Stuttgart, Werner would be used as a winger. His pace and willingness to take defenders on was a big help to a Stuttgart side that had massive troubles scoring the previous few seasons. His start to his career in the Bundesliga had its ups and downs, though the end of the 2014/15 campaign was an especially troubling time. Werner failed to record a goal or an assist after November and struggled to fit into Huub Stevens’ plans. He still seemed to play every week, just often times for only a few minutes at the end of matches. It looked as if Werner might need a change of scenery to spark his young career.
Next season brought a change in manager. Alexander Zorniger took over the helm and quickly made it quite clear he expected more out of Timo Werner. However, the season started off with four straight defeats and sequentially all hell broke loose. Zorniger told the media that he was not Werner’s “nanny” and that the player needs to work harder. Werner had been implemented into the center forward role for Stuttgart and had trouble adjusting at first. He had problems finding space to receive the ball, wasn’t completing nearly as many take-ons, and was being dispossessed of the ball too often. All in all it was a disappointing season, scoring 6 goals in 26 appearances and ultimately not being able to help Stuttgart avoid relegation. It now was quite obvious that this year was definitely the time for him to move on from his boyhood club.
He was bought over the summer by newly promoted RB Leipzig for 10 million euros. Overall a fresh start for Werner and the chance to finally play with some young talent that’s on his level.
Timo Werner, when on his game, is an absolute nightmare to play against as a defender. He has a type of energy to him that puts defenders under constant pressure. His willingness to make runs over and over again throughout games opens up space for his teammates. When Timo receives even decent service throughout a match, he can create for himself and others a plethora of chances by making darting runs through the channels.
He’s currently being played in a two striker partnership with Yussuf Poulsen which allows him to drift out wide and give the more natural striker Poulsen the ability to hold up the ball and set up play. Poulsen’s skill has allowed him to flick on Werner multiple times already this season. Werner loves to make runs off the big Danish forward. Werner is a massive threat on counter attacks as well and seems to be getting better at staying onside and making more diagonal runs off defenders’ back shoulder.
Werner also uses his pace to press center backs when they’re moving the ball between one another. He caught Dortmund and Hamburg napping multiple times recently by putting incredible pressure on the back four when trying to advance the ball. He’s averaging 1.15 interceptions per 90 minutes this season according to Opta, an outstanding number for a forward. He didn’t seem motivated to do this at Stuttgart, but now under Ralph Hassenhuttl this skill is being used to perfection.
As mentioned above, Werner’s biggest strength is his pace and energy. In his first few games at Leipzig it seems he’s always the one causing havoc and disrupting the opponent’s flow whether it’s with the ball or without. After being restricted in his last few years at Stuttgart, it seems he’s back to making terrifying runs with the ball as well, the thing that made him so effective as a youth player. His dribbling skills have never been fancy or eye popping, it’s his control and change of pace that always caused defenders problems. Still, he’s completing less take ons these days as a striker, something he should be doing more of.
Werner was a pretty average finisher early on in his career, but it appears he has found his stroke recently. His finishing ability has taken massive strides since his early days at Stuttgart. His 70% shooting accuracy this season is one of the best in the Bundesliga early on, topping both Aubameyang and Lewandowski at the moment. He’s much calmer in front of net, something you’d expect with experience. He still seems to score most of his goals close to goal, but that isn’t a bad thing especially for a forward.
Timo’s biggest weakness is when he’s forced to give up the ball. He has never been a good passer; even calling him an average passer might be a stretch. He’s never shown the ability to change fields or thread the needle for an on running midfielder or winger next to him. His crossing when playing the wing is inconsistent. His pace to get to the end lines does create opportunities for low crosses across the box, something he did quite often at Stuttgart, but when he’s sending them in the air from out wide, it seems rare that it connects with a teammate’s head. The system he’s in now will help him. He always has two to three options within 15 meters of him. It also helps that Hassenhuttl has him mostly making runs in behind where his passing ability has no impact.
Overall Timo Werner looks to have gotten things back on track at RB Leipzig. He’s still only 20-years-old and has plenty of time to crack Germany’s senior team. His style of play complements the current German forwards Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez particularly well, something that could eventually catch the eye of Joachim Löw. For now, Werner needs to keep up his fantastic form, a key for Leipzig in grabbing a mid table finish.
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