Getting to Know: Timo Werner

Image credit: https://talksport.com/football/718691/timo-werner-chelsea-signing-transfer-rb-leipzig/

Last season felt like a ‘free hit’ for incoming Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, as talisman Eden Hazard was sold to Real Madrid while a transfer embargo prevented any permanent transfers during the summer and winter windows. 

Poor seasons for Arsenal and Spurs, coupled with a loss of form from Leicester, allowed Chelsea to achieve a top four finish and qualify for the Champions League.

Faith was shown in the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount after strong seasons in the Championship; both becoming strong FPL assets at a decent price point last season.

However, injuries and form prevented either of these players, and arguably any Chelsea asset, from being considered a ‘set-and-forget’ option and were more viable when fixtures looked favourable.

A quick look at the tables below will show you how poorly Chelsea players ranked against the competition; only Willian (#8) ranked as a top 10 midfield option in 2019/20.

Figure 1: Selected Chelsea midfielders sorted by overall midfield rank 2019-20
Figure 2: Selected Chelsea forwards sorted by overall forward rank 2019-20

It’s hardly a surprise that Chelsea moved swiftly once the transfer window re-opened for the 2020-21 season, securing two attacking assets in Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) and Hakim Ziyech (Ajax). With the season fast approaching and fixtures recently released, what can we learn about Timo Werner to assess his viability as an FPL asset?

Timo Werner Summary

Club: Chelsea

Position: Forward

Starting Price: £9.5M

Role at RB Leipzig

Timo Werner arrives from RB Leipzig (German Bundesliga) with a strong reputation as one of the best forwards in world football.

Last season he scored 28 league goals, only bettered by Lewandowski (Bayern, 34 goals), which has been his best ever scoring season.

At 24, he has enough experience to be considered more than a raw prospect, but arguably should still have his best years ahead of him.

Looking at his 2019-20 season heatmap (below), Werner made the most impact in the final third of the pitch predominantly on the left hand side.

Towards the back end of the season, he either played as the lone striker or on the left side of a front two, drifting wide to collect the ball rather than as orthodox winger.

Last season, Werner scored 25 of his 28 league goals from inside the penalty area; only three were penalties.

While his heatmap indicates he touches the ball frequently outside the box, 85% of his attempts come from inside the penalty area. All league goal locations last season can be seen on the chart below.

Source: Understat – Goal location map 2019-20. Larger marker indicates higher xG.

What could Werner offer Chelsea?

Statistically speaking, Werner is a very complete forward player. Not only did he provide a strong output of 0.89 G90 (goals per 90 minutes) last season – but he also aided build up by providing 1.69 KP90 (key passes per 90 minutes)  and xA90 (expected assists per 90 minutes) of 0.31; essentially an expected assist every three games.

When compared with Tammy Abraham (below), we can see that as forward options they are on completely different levels.

While they shared similar Sh90 (shots per 90 minutes) and xG90 (expected goals per 90) figures last season, Werner has been much more clinical than Abraham, who only converted at 0.60 G90 from very similar xG90 figures.

Source: Understat – Comparison of Werner v Abraham 2019-20

Despite matching Werner for attempts and xG last season, Abraham was much less involved in attacking build up.

With other effective attacking options like Pulisic and Ziyech in the side, Werner will likely provide for these players much more frequently than Abraham.

The other striker used by Lampard last season, Olivier Giroud, is more renowned for his role is build up play than Abraham.

Looking at his stats below, Giroud was more involved than Abraham in build up but lacked any support to team mates with 0 assists per 90.

Werner effectively represents an upgraded version of a combined Giroud and Abraham when it comes to an all-round forward.

He is clinical in front of goal, while bringing his team-mates into the action by providing higher quality opportunities.

Are there any weaknesses to consider?

Any new player who arrives in the Premier League from abroad should be considered a risk, particularly when joining a club who expects so much success.

The pressure on Chelsea in particular will be ramped up this season as Lampard can no longer hide behind his transfer market limitations.

Source: sofascore.com – Werner scores hat-trick in a 4-4-2 versus FSV Mainz 05

Another consideration is whether Werner will adapt to a new system at Chelsea, having performed well on the left of a front two for RB Leipzig last season. With Chelsea likely to play a front three of Pulisic, Werner and Ziyech (replacing Willian) next season, adaptability will be key in order to hit the ground running.

Is Werner a viable FPL asset?

In short, absolutely.

At 9.5M he could offer incredible value this season given many teams will have invested heavily in midfield areas.

He is 1.0M more expensive than last season’s top forwards Jimenez and Ings, but there’s no doubt Werner is capable of outscoring both of those players this season.

There may be doubts about how quickly he will adapt to English football having been so successful in Germany, but don’t let that become too much of a factor. Werner will be heavily involved in Chelsea attacks this season, who will need to score plenty of goals given their defensive frailties.

His first three games are Brighton (A), Liverpool (H) and West Brom (A), which is a great opportunity to see how he looks against both strong and weaker opponents.

The two Manchester clubs will blank in the first gameweek, so why not give him a try?

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