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Timo is easy fit for Klopp side

Hard-working Leipzig striker Werner has knack for scoring in mould of Rush and Aldo


HUNGRY FOR GOALS: Leipzig’s Timo Werner (r) celebrates scoring their fourth side’s goal
with Kevin Kampl (c) during the Bundesliga match against Mainz 05 in Mainz yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

HUNGRY FOR GOALS: Leipzig’s Timo Werner (r) celebrates scoring their fourth side’s goal with Kevin Kampl (c) during the Bundesliga match against Mainz 05 in Mainz yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

HUNGRY FOR GOALS: Leipzig’s Timo Werner (r) celebrates scoring their fourth side’s goal with Kevin Kampl (c) during the Bundesliga match against Mainz 05 in Mainz yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

Timo Werner is the ideal player to keep Liverpool on top of the Premier league pile next season. The hat-trick Europe's deadliest young striker scored in Red Bull Leipzig's 5-0 win over Mainz yesterday brought his goals total to twenty-four in twenty-seven Bundesliga games.

But one extremely telling moment in Werner's performance didn't even involve him kicking the ball. In the 70th minute with Leipzig already 4-0 up manager Julian Nagelsmann brought on striker Ademola Lookman.

Werner's anxious glances at the bench expressed an obvious worry that he might not get the chance to complete his hat-trick after two narrow misses in the previous three minutes. But Nagelsmann withdrew midfielder Christopher Nkunku instead.

Reprieved, it took Werner just five minutes to notch his third, latching on to Yussuf Poulsen's quickly taken free kick to steer the ball over keeper Florian Muller.

The goal was like a compendium of the striker's best qualities. There was the anticipation which put him quickly on the trail of Poulsen's through ball and the pace which pulled him clear of the defenders, the confidence which persuaded him to attempt the lob and the deftness of touch that enabled its perfect execution.


Yet the dread of being taken off that he'd shown five minutes earlier illustrated another important facet of Werner's make-up. Like all great strikers he possesses a relentless hunger for finding the net, made fiercer in this case by an atypical fallow spell which had yielded just one goal in the previous eight games.

That relative drought notwithstanding, in Europe's top leagues only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski and Lazio's Ciro Immobile have scored more often than Werner this season. His status as an opportunist in the classic mould will add something extra to Liverpool if the anticipated move to Anfield goes through this summer.

Werner does not possess Mohamed Salah's electric acceleration, Roberto Firmino's subtlety or Sadio Mane's peerless all-round game. The Kop favourites he resembles are Ian Rush and John Aldridge, players who did almost all their best work inside the box. Like them, Werner is a great goalscorer rather than a scorer of great goals.

Liverpool don't currently possess that kind of penalty box predator. Despite the extraordinary dominance and fluent attacking style of Jurgen Klopp's team, the top scorer in this season's Premier League is not a Red but Leicester City's Jamie Vardy followed by Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Werner's facility for converting half-chances would add a significant weapon to Liverpool's armoury.

You can cavil about the quality of the Bundesliga defences against whom he's scored 40 goals in 57 games over the past season and three quarters. But he's also been highly impressive in Leipzig's run to the Champions League quarter-finals with the brace he bagged in their 2-1 group stage away win over Benfica a particular highlight.

Small wonder that Klopp has apparently been in touch with him during the lockdown, perhaps wary of the threat posed by Bayern Munich who tried to sign the striker last year.

One reservation being expressed about the move is that there might not be a starting place at Liverpool for Werner. But this argument hardly holds water. Salah, Firmino and Mane are a magnificent trio but won't always be as lucky with injuries as they have been of late.

There's also the question of fatigue with Liverpool's key players looking distinctly jaded before the season came to a premature halt. Klopp was even criticised for not adopting a rotation policy but that wasn't really an option up front. In desperate need of extra-time goals against Atletico Madrid he could only turn to the willing but limited Divock Origi and the relatively untried Takumi Minamino.

Even with the big three in flying form, Origi has made twenty-two Premier League appearances this season, five of them as a starter. Liverpool do not possess sufficient attacking riches for a world class striker to be a superfluous addition.

The addition of Werner would shake things up and prevent the complacency which sometimes afflicts a club tasting success after a period in the doldrums. Firmino would be most likely to come under immediate pressure, his eight Premier League goals seems an underwhelming return next to Salah's sixteen and Mane's fourteen. The Brazilian may have contributed seven assists but so did Mane while Salah had just one less.

Werner's tireless hard-working style makes him a prototypical Klopp player. It's easy to see him becoming a favourite with an Anfield faithful who've always had a special affection for great strikers.


In their finest years, Liverpool were notably unsentimental about old heroes. Kevin Keegan inspired the club to a first European Cup victory in 1977 but 12 months later it was his replacement Kenny Dalglish who scored the winner in the final against Bruges. The golden era was founded on the judicious addition of new blood and the adoption of a similar approach is imperative if the club's current pre-eminence is to be consolidated.

The prospect of Werner swooping on to crosses from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson or combining with Mane, Salah or Firmino inside the area is a mouth watering one. But he's not the only Leipzig prospect who could soon be lighting up the Premier League.

While Werner was hitting his hat-trick, Leipzig's utter dominance meant centre-back Dayot Upamecano was practically unemployed at the other end before being withdrawn on the hour.

Yet the 21-year-old Frenchman is another extraordinary and much coveted talent with Manchester United looking like Bayern Munich's main challengers for the signature of Europe's best young defender.

Aggressive, athletic and assured on the ball, Upamecano has all the attributes to end the central defensive woes which have bedevilled United in recent years.

Should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer secure his services, next season might see Leipzig's two wonder boys going head to head at Old Trafford and Anfield.

It would be some battle.