Timo Werner deal underlines why Bundesliga can be three-horse race

The Guardian-1 year before

The goal was the perfect reminder of why he is so highly prized, inside and outside the club. Marcel Sabitzer’s corner was helped on at the near post by Yussuf Poulsen – behind Werner, who twisted with one graceful, dextrous, instinctive movement to sweep inside Kevin Trapp’s far post. A difficult finish made simple, again. It also underlined the perfect synergy between Werner and Poulsen. “We know each other really well,” the latter reflected. “I’m very happy that he extended.”

1.46pm: New four-year deal announced. ✍️
2.42pm: Open scoring for RB Leipzig. ...

A true poacher's finish from Timo Werner! pic.twitter.com/IKfApv5hWQ

pic.twitter.com/IKfApv5hWQ August 25, 2019 Most of us can make significant presumptions about players based on their on-pitch gait and demeanour. Werner is not looked upon as an alpha and is still judged by some Bundesliga fans for his move east when, as Leipzig’s first major domestic signing after promotion in 2016, he swapped sinking Stuttgart – his hometown club – for the rising newbies. Few knew what quite to expect, and even fewer approved. Having become Stuttgart’s youngest ever first-teamer when making his debut in an August 2013 Europa League qualifier – he was 17 years old and still at school – Werner had been visible, and feted, for a while. For feted, after that move to Leipzig, read slated.

Bundesliga Some of the criticism from the terraces was harsh and personal, but Werner just brushed it off and his rise has been almost inseparable from Leipzig’s. In his three-season tenure, his goal tallies have been 21, 21 and 19. Strength is not one of the first adjectives most would use to describe a player largely defined by pace and guile – features which suit his current team down to the ground – but he has shown considerable fortitude not to let brickbats, his involvement in Germany’s miserable 2018 World Cup or his contractual situation knock him off course.

“With or without a contract extension, it doesn’t change the way I am on the pitch,” he insisted after Sunday’s game. “It’s perfectly normal. I scored 16 [Bundesliga] goals last season despite the contract negotiations.” Those negotiations have dragged, dragged and dragged some more. It was widely expected that Werner would move to Bayern Munich this summer, with his original deal due to expire next summer – especially after he turned down the chance to join Atlético Madrid, seemingly making clear his intentions.

Leipzig’s willingness to play hardball was already clear. A recent report in Bild suggested their latest move in their game of poker with Bayern was actually to up the asking price for Werner as the deadline approached, with the momentum having fallen from the champions’ transfer plans before the signings of Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho.

Getting Werner to put pen to paper is an unexpected twist, though. It’s not necessarily the epilogue to the story between the forward and Bayern, with a high likelihood that an achievable release clause (around the €30m mark) or a gentlemen’s agreement with a view to a future transfer has been worked into the deal. That he is prepared to commit even his short-to-medium-term future to Leipzig is a huge vote of confidence for the club and new coach Julian Nagelsmann, a leader who exudes ambition. “Of course, this process has been going on for a very long time,” Werner said, ”but I really wanted to be completely sure that I could take the next steps in the development of this club. And for the right decisions you just need a little longer.”

Werner in action against Eintracht Frankfurt. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Exactly what those ambitions are, and how immediately Leipzig intend to realise them, is becoming acutely clear. Bayern have grabbed the spotlight by signing Coutinho, while Dortmund’s strong start rightly commands attention, but there is little reason why this Bundesliga can’t be a three-team race. Werner’s decision to commit to Leipzig, leaving Bayern as an option for later, suggests he feels that he has as much chance of the title right where he is now, with learning from Nagelsmann rather than working with Kovac – who is far from secure – the better bet.

Leipzig were not vintage after Werner’s opener, with Frankfurt surprisingly spritely given their exacting Europa League derby with Strasbourg. Ante Rebic’s omission (after sporting director Fredi Bobic publicly tore him out for his current attitude) meant none of Adi Hütter’s big three up front were here, following the exits of Luka Jović to Real Madrid and Sébastien Haller to West Ham.

The heatwave sweeping Germany – that elicited water breaks in the weekend’s games – had other effects too. Leipzig were unable to keep up their trademark intensity, sensibly opting to drop and conserve energy with the game seemingly under control – Nagelsmann later told reporters he felt his team had gained a “lucky victory”, which seemed harsh. The noise levels in the stands were subduedtoo, with fans at the Red Bull Arena reporting that no water was available during the first half and that, by the time it was, huge queues meant supporters missing several minutes of the game. On the pitch, Leipzig had a late wobble when Gonçalo Paciência pulled a goal back after Poulsen’s excellent volley made it 2-0.

A tough opponent and a hard-fought victory 👊

🎙️ @yussufyurary pic.twitter.com/BtIB4OXKdY

@yussufyurary pic.twitter.com/BtIB4OXKdY August 26, 2019 That Nagelsmann’s irritation was matched by his players’ thoughts, though, said a lot about how the new man and his charges are already on the same page, and the sort of standards he has instilled. Poulsen complained that, despite the win, “there were many things that we could have done a lot better, and that we did too slowly”.

Werner’s expectations have always been high. His signature is acknowledgement of just where all of Leipzig thinks their team is going – right away.

Bayern kicked back into gear in the Saturday night game at Schalke. A biggie on paper, perhaps, but almost a slam dunk given Die Königsblauen’s current toothless state. This was brought into sharp relief by Robert Lewandowski’s imperious hat-trick – a penalty, a sensational free-kick and a beautifully taken third from Kingsley Coman’s assist. David Wagner, on his home debut as Schalke coach, had reason to be upset at the lack of intervention after apparent handballs by Benjamin Pavard and Perisic went uncalled by VAR.

Was there ever any doubt? 😏

Perfection from Robert Lewandowski! ⚡️

He has scored against Schalke in a NINTH successive game 😳 pic.twitter.com/2BkKkgSmEn

pic.twitter.com/2BkKkgSmEn August 24, 2019 Kudos to Bayern’s travelling fans as well, ensuring that the racist outburst of the currently suspended Schalke chairman Clemens Tönnies was not forgotten. “Only one of many,” said their banner. “Red card for racists.”

the racist outburst Dortmund continued their 100% record, with Jadon Sancho again the main protagonist with a goal and an assist as they came from behind to win a robust encounter at a tumultuous Köln on Friday night.

Sanchoooooo!

Super Cup ⚽️
First league game ⚽️
Second league game ⚽️

The Dortmund forward's red-hot streak in front of goal continues 🔥 pic.twitter.com/DhbqOfSzxR

pic.twitter.com/DhbqOfSzxR August 23, 2019 Four others have also won two out of two; Leipzig, Freiburg, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, who won 3-0 at Hertha.

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