The confirmation that star striker Timo Werner is joining Chelsea at the end of the season is a big blow to RB Leipzig in their bid to challenge Bayern for the title in Germany. The fact that they are also likely to be without Patrik Schick next season is a further blow to Julian Nagelsmann’s plans to have die Roten Bullen competing at the very top. It’s a striking problem that needs to be solved, but how?
This season has seen German international Werner hit 26 goals at the time of writing, while Czech forward Schick has added 10 during his loan move from Roma. That is a considerable chunk of goals that will be missing from Leipzig’s squad next season. Werner has brought the club a reported €50 million from his departure to Chelsea, but in effect with deductions, player/ agent shares , loan repayments and a payment owed to VfB Stuttgart, the club are likely to be left with only around €30 million.
That won’t be used to purchase Schick, who the club have an option to buy for €29 million. The tall Czech has got amongst the goals this season for RB but is not seen as a long-term option. In a team that is based on high energy and fast pace, Schick doesn’t quite fit with Nagelsmann’s philosophy and cannot be seen as a replacement for Werner.
As mentioned, it doesn’t seem likely that the club will have a bottomless pit of cash to splash in the summer for striking replacements so sporting director Markus Krösche will have to cast his net out carefully to snare the ideal Werner replacement. There are plenty of options, and it will be interesting to see which one RB go for.
Belgian side Gent’s Jonathan David is an obvious target, but he is also being monitored by some other very big clubs, so Leipzig will certainly face competition for his signing. Following the success of compatriot Alphonso Davies, the Bundesliga would seem attractive and the logical next step from the Jupiler League. The 20-year-old scored 18 goals in 24 league appearances for Gent this season adding a further three in the Europa league. With a similar stature and style to Timo Werner, he would seem the perfect fit.
Many observers believe that Werder Bremen’s Milot Rashica has already been lined-up to move to the Red Bull Arena and should the Grün-Weißen be relegated his release clause would drop from €38 million to €15 million making him a much more affordable option. His pace and style would certainly be a good match with the team.
Another name mentioned is that of RB Salzburg’s Korean forward Hee-chan Hwang. The 24-year-old is coming off the back of an impressive season in Austria having scored 14 goals and provided 13 assists in 33 official matches this term. He would follow the well-worn path of players moving from Salzburg to Leipzig along the Red Bull route (Naby Keita, Dayot Upamecano, Konrad Laimer, Amadou Haidara amongst others).
There are younger, more long-term options open to the club as well. Bild have reported that 17-year-old Czech Adam Hložek from Sparta Prague is a consideration. The youngster has made the breakthrough this season to be a regular first-team starter and is widely predicted for a big future. His strength includes pace down the flanks (à la Werner), but would not be expected to be an instant replacement. The fact that he shares the same agent as Patrik Schick (Pavel Paska) could ease any negotiations.
A left-field option, but one that would come at a high price, is that of Wissam Ben Yedder from Monaco. He has only been in France for one season after joining from Sevilla, but really would prefer to be playing Champions League football. Manchester United have been linked, but their qualification for next season’s premier European competition is far from certain.
With 18 league goals from 26 appearances only Kylian Mbappe could match him in Ligue 1 this season. Monaco however would want to recoup most of the 4€0 million they paid for the 29-year-old just 12 months ago.
Timo Werner is going to leave a massive hole in the RB Leipzig attack and if the club are to fulfil their ambitions, they are going to have to provide Julian Nagelsmann with an alternative source of goals.