England’s Norwich City are reportedly going to break their transfer record to sign Timm Klose. Is one of Wolfsburg’s reserve defenders worth that kind of money? DW’s Davis Van Opdorp thinks so.
Almost any usage stat you will find will tell you Timm Klose is a backup defender in Wolfsburg's squad since his arrival from Nürnberg in 2013 – 43 appearances, 34 starts, and 2958 total minutes in two and a half seasons. The Swiss center back has a similar standing with his national team as well, returning to the fold at the end of Euro qualifying after nearly a two year hiatus. Despite the “backup” tag he has, Klose could be the fifth-most lucrative sale Wolfsburg has ever made.
Klose is on the verge of moving to Norwich City for a reported 12 million Euros, double what Wolfsburg paid to acquire him from Nürnberg. The 27-year-old travelled to England to complete his medical over the weekend, and Wolfsburg competed in a friendly in Chemnitz without him.
“We have largely reached an agreement with Norwich, and so has Timm as far as I know,” Klaus Allofs, Wolfsburg's sporting director, said after the friendly.
If 12 million Euros is in fact the transfer fee Norwich City is paying, Klose would represent the most expensive acquisition they have ever made. For Wolfsburg, the only sales more profitable than this reported fee were the ones of Kevin De Bruyne, Edin Dzeko, Ivica Perisic and Mario Mandzukic. Zoltan Sebercen, whose 46 appearances in two seasons between 1999 and 2001 is more than Klose's total, was Wolfsburg's most lucrative defensive sale when he moved to Bayer Leverkusen for six million Euros in 2001.
That kind of company begs the question: How can a reserve player for a seventh-place Bundesliga team be worth that kind of money?
A squad player with latent dependability
Though playing time has been hard to attain, Klose has been a solid defender in Germany. He was one of the reasons Nürnberg finished mid-table in the 2012/13 season, leading one of the better defenses in the Bundesliga. Nürnberg were then relegated in 2013/14 once Klose moved north, though he only achieved 10 Bundesliga appearances for fifth-placed Wolfsburg that season.
Klose has never been good in the air, but he is gifted with his feet and has very good spatial awareness. His consistency never allowed him to be more than a squad player under Dieter Hecking though, stuck behind first German youngster Robin Knoche and then Bundesliga veteran Dante as Wolfsburg's "third" center back. Though he spent more time on the bench than he did on the field, he was not one to complain about his usage rate.
“It counts when the coach has no other choice but to put me on the pitch,” said Klose earlier in January. “My situation is the same as the last few years: I have always fought to come back. Then I fell behind and I fought to come back again. I will not give up here.
Will he be worth the price?
Considering Norwich City are not far above the relegation zone in England and possess and have one of the worst defenses in the division, an experienced defender is probably their biggest need. Factoring in the inflated prices in the January transfer window, the Canaries may have to invest an eight-digit sum to improve at the back regardless. “Overpaying” for Klose may be their best option, but it may not be a bad investment.
Klose is a player Norwich City do not have at the moment - not as physical as Sebastian Bassong or Russell Martin, but a little more crafty. He is able to contribute to buildup play from the back, not a forte for the Canaries at the moment. The recently-promoted club also adds another international to their squad, as well as one with recent experience in the Champions League.
Knoche's return gives Wolfsburg a surplus in the defensive position as well, narrowing playing opportunities for Klose even more. Klose may therefore revel in the opportunity to get regular minutes once more, something he has not received since his time with Nürnberg. A 12 million Euro transfer of the Swiss international may be one that benefits all three sides, but only the second half of the season will reveal the ultimate winner.