A pacey forward who can also play on the wing, scored bags of goals in the Bundesliga, signing for a London-based premier league team. It’s certainly a similar story to Aubameyang’s move to Arsenal, but will Werner be as successful?
It seems unusual to be writing a player exploration piece on a player who, at the time of writing, sits on 38.8% ownership. But, for some, he remains a ‘wait-and-see’ player. One who many have their eyes on but may be wary of jumping on as an ‘untested’ player (in the premier league at least), from a foreign league who may take time to adjust. Aubameyang had no problem adjusting, but these are certainly factors to consider.Embed from Getty Images
Performances in Europe as well as International games are often a good barometer of a player’s underlying ability regardless of the level of opposition. In Werner’s case, the basic stats here read: 7 goals, 2 assists in 14 UCL appearances and 11 goals, 2 assists in 29 international appearances for the senior Germany team. This is certainly respectable for a player who, at 24 years old, is probably still a couple of years away from even entering his prime. In FPL terms, it equates to a 64% returns-per-game rate (goal or assist per game) whilst playing in an ‘underdog’ team in Europe’s elite competition, and a 45% returns-per-game rate in his still-young international career.
Werner seems to be on an improvement trajectory in the last few years, scoring 20+ goals in 2 of the last 4 domestic seasons alongside 7+ assists in each of those. With that being said, it’s hard not to imagine him taking the move to the Premier League in his stride. At an FPL cost of £9.5m, he could make a mockery of his price tag. So, what can we expect from him? Examining his style of play and his positioning as well as his weaknesses may help us to answer this question.
Style and Position
Starting out as a winger using his considerable pace, he was transformed into a forward under Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig. Nagelsmann wanted Werner to drop deeper rather than play on the shoulder of the last man, allowing him to be involved in the link up play. This also allowed room in front of him to accelerate to full speed when attempting to make runs in behind the defence, rather than being caught static on the last man. This not only makes him hard to mark as he runs through lines of defence, but there also aren’t many defenders with the pace to keep up with him if they stay tight, meaning many will drop deeper to avoid being caught out. Werner’s main area of improvement in the last few years has been his ability to link up and play between the lines, especially against teams that defend deep, rather than just relying on his raw pace to punish high lines.
This tactical flexibility will be extremely important in what is a very attacking Chelsea side. As well as playing as the lone centre forward and on the wing, Werner also has the capacity to play alongside a strike partner if needed. At RB Leipzig he often played in a 4-4-2 alongside target man Yussuf Poulsen, In this role Werner was encouraged float around, dropping deep to link with midfield or going wide to stretch defences a find a way through. It again made him hard to mark, but was also enabled by Poulsen as the target man who Pulisic could play off of. This could be comparable to the Giroud role at Chelsea, meaning not only could Werner play as the centre forward or on the wing, but he could also play alongside Giroud in a 4-4-2 if this formation ever took Lampard’s fancy.Embed from Getty Images
It’s hard to imagine a system that Chelsea could play where Werner won’t play a key part. It’s also hard to imagine Werner not giving defences a nightmare in whatever position he plays; he could still effectively play in the conventional winger role if, say, injuries demanded it. His shot-creating actions per 90 last season was 3.8. Havertz, for example, compares at 4.3 shot-creating actions per 90. So there is clearly more to Werner’s play than just pace and finishing ability, which he has in abundance.
With a fully fit squad, Werner will most likely be flanked by Pulisic on the left and Ziyech on the right. With Havertz potentially still to sign, this quartet could form one of the most formidable attacking units in world football. It’s hard not to imagine Werner licking his lips at the thought of all that ammunition being fed to him to fire home; he could be a golden boot contender every year, and any involvement in that attacking unit, regardless of position, should result in a lot of attacking returns for FPL managers.Embed from Getty Images
One very important factor for FPL managers to consider is penalties. With said attacking quartet likely to earn their fair share of penalties this season, the player taking those penalties suddenly becomes very important from an FPL consideration. Werner is a strong penalty taker; he has scored 13 of his last 16 penalties, last missing one in October 2018. With Willian moving to Arsenal and Jorginho out of favour, Werner could potentially be the one to step up as first choice penalty taker, which massively boosts his FPL appeal and points potential.
To assess a player properly, its also important to understand their weaknesses. Firstly, it must be said that Werner is not a physical presence. He is by no means short, but at 1.81m (5’11) he is not the tallest. He won 8 of his 32 aerial duels in 19/20, so FPL managers shouldn’t expect too many headed goals from set pieces. This is in fact a wider problem at Chelsea, who were already aerially weak, especially from set pieces, and this is a problem which won’t be improved by Werner.Embed from Getty Images
Secondly, Liam Twomey writing for The Athletic notes that, whilst Werner’s link up play is improving, it is still far from complete. He can look clumsy when things become intricate, and he’s generally best when things are kept simple. Liam also notes that the deeper Werner drops, the more more uncomfortable he looks. This could potentially become an issue in the premier league where the high press is often employed.
A final thing to note is that Werner often drifts wide even when playing as a centre forward to evade defenders. This isn’t necessarily a weakness if it allows him to drag defenders out of position, enter the box in dangerous positions or make overlapping runs with wingers/full backs to set up chances and assist other players. However, this could become a source of frustration for fantasy managers who ideally want to see him on the end of things to score the goals himself for maximum points.
With the attacking play that Chelsea have, the players they have signed and are expected to sign, and the fact that Werner could realistically be on penalties, it’s hard not to see Werner finish around the 20 goal mark in his debut season. He’s achieved 20+ goals twice in recent seasons already. This could be huge seeing as he currently sits at just £9.5m, and as mentioned he could make a mockery of this price tag. His FPL returns will certainly be helped by his tactical flexibility meaning he can perform in almost any system, as well as his ability to create for others as well as scoring for himself. He finished on 78 goals in 127 appearances for RB Leipzig, and, whilst this was achieved in a weaker league, Werner will have much better players around him at Chelsea to help him step up. As such, you’d bet on him recording even better numbers at Chelsea, but more importantly for FPL managers should they pick him.
Liam Twomey (The Athletic) https://theathletic.com/2004756/2020/08/19/timo-werner-position-chelsea?source=user-shared-article