The Timo Werner conundrum – can he win a starting role at Chelsea?
Timo Werner scored in all three of Germany’s World Cup qualifiers but added ANOTHER shocking miss to his catalogue… he remains a conundrum and must show consistency to win back a starting spot for Chelsea
- Timo Werner has endured mixed experience since joining Chelsea for £47million
- The German adds plenty to the side in terms of work rate and penetrating runs
- But the cutting edge he showed in his RB Leipzig spell has been sorely missed
- He spurned a golden chance for Germany but then scored against Iceland
- Werner has been benched during Chelsea games since Romelu Lukaku joined
Few strikers, particularly top level players, have delivered the number of shocking misses that Timo Werner has mustered in the last 18 months.
And the Chelsea forward sent the Twitter mob into a frenzy once again on Wednesday night with another howler.
It remains bizarre just how frequently Werner will fluff a clear opportunity in front of goal for club and country compared to the prolific assassin at RB Leipzig who left for £47m, which seemed like a drop in the ocean for his talent at the time.
Timo Werner (centre) missed a golden opportunity against Iceland with the goal at his mercy
The Germany striker is building quite the back catalogue for glaring misses
But Werner did manage to show resilience and come back to score for his side late on
Werner did manage to right the wrong and bag a late goal in Wednesday’s 4-0 win but the performance summed up how he is now perceived, capable of flashes of brilliance and moments of madness.
He also scored in Germany’s previous two World Cup qualifying wins over Armenia and Liechtenstein so despite the headline-grabbing miss, has actually started well in the new regime under Hansi Flick.
There is undoubted quality there but a fragile confidence at times when a goal is gaping. That is not so damaging in international games against minnows when another chance could be right around the corner, but what about more competitive games when they are at a premium?
Chelsea are gunning for the title this season and cannot afford a forward who blows hot and cold.
The real question is, is Werner finally finding his feet and ready to explode after getting to grips with the Premier League, or will the 25-year-old join the Stamford Bridge scrap heap of big name disappointments alongside Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres?
Chelsea moved decisively to sign Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan and solve their problems in terms of cutting edge.
The Belgian will start almost every game through the middle and is likely to elevate Tuchel’s men to another level over the course of this season.
Werner can still be effective off the flank, but the early signs are not good.
Werner was dropped by Chelsea for his last two games before the international break
He started the first game against Crystal Palace but was dropped to the bench as soon as Lukaku joined.
The German came on as a substitute in the win over Arsenal but remained on the sideline during Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at Anfield against Liverpool, though the dynamic was changed by Reece James’ red card.
In pre-season, there were some telling remarks from Tuchel after a defeat by Arsenal.
He lamented the fact that Werner was not showing enough of a killer instinct in front of goal.
‘Now it’s on him. Like always it’s on him to show his quality and his ability,’ he said.
‘I’m happy that he was dangerous but there were some chances where he could be more decisive, could have scored could have assisted another one or two.
Werner was previously criticised by Thomas Tuchel for his indecisiveness in front of goal
‘It’s a bit the same, like in the last games, but like I said, we’ve just started and it’s not the moment to blame.’
Not the moment to blame, but the moment to publicly point out Werner’s indecisiveness. It was hardly a glowing show of support.
Another problem for Werner is the formation that Tuchel is operating – three central defenders, wing backs, two central midfielders and two wide attacking midfielders with a striker.
Werner will be fighting to either replace Lukaku off the bench or compete for one of the starting roles as a wide attacking midfielder.
At the moment, it is clear to see that Tuchel favour Mason Mount and Kai Havertz in those roles and neither seem likely to be dropped any time soon.
Add to that the competition from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic when they are fully fit and he is swimming against the tide.
Werner is well liked and brings industry and the threat of his pace to club and country
Werner’s best chance of starting is out wide but faces stiff competition from Kai Havertz (left) and Mason Mount (right), who were given the nod in the last two games
Werner only scored six goals for Chelsea last season in the Premier League and by May, had missed 18 big chances, ranking him fifth in that category.
Interestingly, Tuchel’s advice was not for extra finishing training as he thought it was a mental rather than technical issue.
Werner told The Telegraph: ‘I had a lot of managers when it was not so easy to score say, ‘OK, come, we practice outside to give you a better feeling’.
‘But also there is Thomas who says, “you scored your whole life. But it doesn’t come because you practice every day, it comes because you were calm, you had your head free, and you know what you do because you have this instinct to score”.
‘It’s maybe the worst thing that you think too much, “OK, when I get the ball now, I want to hit it in the right corner”.
‘No, when you get the ball, you shoot the ball and you know exactly where it goes.
‘Maybe that’s the point he wanted to get through to me, that I don’t have to practice all the time to get the feeling back, that the instinct works.’
Werner was on the bench for the last two Chelsea games and will be desperate to break in
There’s a feeling that Werner is a striker playing out wide rather than a natural winger. And his raw pace is useful for the Blues, particularly against adventurous sides with a higher line.
But many Premier League teams this season will play Chelsea with a low block, meaning the more creative Mount and Havertz seem a natural fit to find killer passes.
This will be a long season for the European champions with plenty of chances for Werner to impress, but there is now a real pressure to deliver when he is given time in the side.
For all his hard work and willingness to sacrifice for the team, the Werner of Leipzig must resurface this season, or a return to the Bundesliga next summer seems inevitable.
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