Manuel Veth –
The international break brought six points for die Mannschaft, who now just need just one more point from their last two games to secure qualification for Russia 2018. But even more importantly the two games against the Czech Republic and Norway also showed that in Timo Werner Germany have finally found their replacement for Miroslav Klose.
Timo Werner was already one of the best players for die Mannschaft during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Scoring three goals and two assists Werner outscored teammates Leon Goretzka and Lars Stindl—both had three goals, but no assists—to win the Golden Boot for the best scorer of the tournament.
The tournament suggested that Werner could fill the large shoes left behind by former national team striker Miroslav Klose. Klose scored 71 goals in 137 games for Germany holding the goalscoring record for die Mannschaft—although some would, of course, point out that Gerd Müller’s 68 goals in 62 games should receive bigger recognition.
Timo Werner has Some Pretty Big Shoes to Fill
Klose also holds the record for the most combined goals scored at FIFA World Cups tournament with 16, and he is only one of three players in history to have scored at four different World Cup. Klose was also a complete goal scorer, who combined his ability to score from any position inside the box with his almost playmaking like sense for his partners. Germany’s head coach Joachim Löw thought Klose to be the ideal centre-forward, because unlike Mario Gómez, who is a big and powerful striker dependent on his teammates, Klose almost acted like a false number 10 when playing up front.
It was his tactical ability that was virtually impossible to replace when Klose hung up his boots for the national team following the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Löw brought back Mario Gómez for the European Championships in France. Although a prolific striker himself Gómez is a bit one-dimensional at times and cannot fall deep and interplay with a three man attacking line that Löw likes to set up behind the lone-striker.
Timo Werner in the meantime seems to be almost Kloseesque. A dynamic striker Werner at just 21-years of age has established himself as the number one choice up front. No surprise given the records the young striker has produced in the last few years. Werner was the youngest striker to score two goals in one Bundesliga game; he also was the youngest ever player to play for VfB Stuttgart as well as their youngest goal scorer ever. When he was 18 and 351 days old, he became the youngest player ever to reach 50 Bundesliga games.
After starting his Bundesliga career with VfB, Stuttgart Werner left his hometown club and joined RB Leipzig last season where he became the youngest player to reach 100 games in the Bundesliga. Last season, in general, saw the significant breakthrough in Werner’s career. In 31 Bundesliga games, Werner scored 21 goals and seven assists to become the best fourth best striker in the league.
Werner – Where was the big Money Offer?
In some ways, it is remarkable that not a single club went after Timo Werner this summer. Given that Borussia Dortmund were able to sell Ousmane Dembélé for €105 million (plus €43 million in bonuses) to FC Barcelona it is hard to imagine how much Leipzig could have demanded for the services of the 21-year-old German striker. While Dembélé is a raw talent with abilities that could make him a major star he did just rank ninth in Bundesliga scoring far behind Leipzig’s Werner.
Werner, in fact, was one of the primary reasons why Leipzig were able to perform as well as they did last season. Also, there are no signs that the young striker is at the end of his development. Two goals for Germany against Norway on matchday 8 of UEFA World Cup qualification as well as two goals in two Bundesliga games this season highlight that Werner will continue where has left off.
Perhaps the biggest test will come next week when RB Leipzig start their first ever Champions League campaign. Should Werner excel in that competition and then start for Germany at the World Cup, it will be only a matter of time until the big teams in Europe take notice and will attempt to sign a forward, who might be very well one of the best in his age group.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.