Football

Impending Chelsea move completes Timo Werner’s redemption

When Timo Werner seals his imminent move from RB Leipzig to Chelsea, the German's turbulent rise from national pariah to one of Europe's most feared forwards will be complete.

Chelsea are willing to meet the 60 million euro (S$94.2m) release clause in Werner's contract despite the economic crisis caused by Covid-19. According to media reports yesterday, they also want to sign compatriot Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen.

But for the pandemic, Werner could have been lining up for Liverpool next season after the 24-year-old admitted to being flattered by Juergen Klopp's interest.

However, Liverpool, concerned by the financial fallout from the virus, were not willing to pay Werner's release clause before it expired this month.

The Germany international has scored 31 goals for Leipzig in all competitions this season.

Werner has already proved he can trouble English Premier League defences. He played an influential role as Leipzig beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 on aggregate in the Champions League last 16.

The fanfare around Werner comes just two years after his reputation had taken a major hit amid World Cup misery and diving accusations.

That storm was a far cry from Werner's humble upbringing in Stuttgart, where his father Guenther Schuh played at the amateur level.

He fulfilled his childhood ambition in 2013, becoming VfB Stuttgart's youngest-ever debutant aged 17 and their youngest scorer when he netted three times in his first 10 appearances.

Earning the nickname "Turbo Timo" because of his electric pace, which he attributes to running up mountains with his father as a child, Werner has been clocked at 11.1 seconds over 100 metres.

Stuttgart's relegation in 2016 convinced Werner to accept an offer to join newly promoted Leipzig - an unpopular decision not just to the spurned Stuttgart faithful but German football public at large given the anger at Leipzig's rise thanks to the backing of Red Bull.

Slammed for a lack of loyalty, Werner found himself public enemy No. 1 when a blatant dive against Schalke 04 enraged fans and pundits alike in 2016.

The unassuming Werner rebuilt his confidence to head to the 2018 World Cup as Germany's leading striker, but failed to score in three games as the holders crashed out at the first hurdle for the first time since 1938.

Seeking help from a sports psychologist, Werner showed his maturity by using the backlash to fuel his development.

"He told me that I could silence everyone who doesn't like me by doing just one thing: scoring," Werner told Focus magazine at the time.- AFP

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