RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner’s return to the Sachsen club in 2022 following his spell in the Premier League with Chelsea could and should have seen the prodigal son return home to Germany to kick-start a career that seemed to stall in London. His second coming however hasn’t really been the success it had been hoped for and the 27-year-old is poised to move back to England with Tottenham signing him on an initial loan deal.
After scoring 78 goals in 127 Bundesliga appearances for die Roten Bullen between 2016 and 2020, Werner was lured to the Premier League with Chelsea paying €53 million. His two seasons in the English capital however saw him score just ten league goals in 56 appearances and while his efforts could not be faulted, his time was largely seen a failure.
When Leipzig had the chance to re-sign him in the summer of 2022 for a cut-price €20 million, the move seemed like a no-brainer for both parties. He was stationed predominantly in a wide left attacking role in support of Christopher Nkunku and scored nine league goals. The club had however already agreed the signing of Benjamin Sesko from Red Bull Salzburg and this summer spent €38.5 million to bring in Lois Openda.
An adductor and a back injury have seen him miss seven matches this season and Werner has been limited to just two starts with Openda, Sesko and Yussuf Poulsen all ahead of him in Marco Rose’s attacking plan. The move back hasn’t reignited his career as planned and his international career has also stalled with Niklas Füllkrug emerging as Germany’s number one striker.
Werner is reportedly the club’s top earner (along with Dani Olmo) with a yearly salary of €10 million. Tottenham have turned to Werner as they are looking to strengthen their forward line with Son Heung-min away with South Korea for the Asian Cup and James Maddison still sidelined with injury. They will be prepared to cover his wages and will reportedly have the option of signing the striker on a permanent deal in the summer.
“It’s right that Timo is looking for a loan,” explained RB coach Marco Rose. “Timo wants match practice, which I can’t guarantee him at the moment. He wants to go to the European Championships, and maybe it will help us if he comes back in top shape under certain circumstances. We keep our fingers crossed that he gets back on his feet there and regains his self-confidence.”
In some instances, returning to your previous club pays dividends and brings as much success as the first time round (Steffen Effenberg, Mats Hummels), but then there are occasions when the move doesn’t live up to the ideal (Mario Götze, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar). Werner’s confidence must have taken a knock from his time at Chelsea and there remains a question as to whether he is best suited as a number 9 playing through the middle or as an attacking wideman using his pace to cut inside.
Timo Werner has always promised so very much, but has not really taken his game to the next level at either Chelsea, Leipzig or at international level. This move to Spurs could be what he needs, or it could see him take another step backwards making a third return to the Red Bull Arena unlikely.