Why Germany striker Timo Werner should stay in Leipzig | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 03.01.2019
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Why Germany striker Timo Werner should stay in Leipzig

Timo Werner, 22, has yet to agree a new contract with RB Leipzig and is attracting interest from a number of top European clubs. Germany's striker would do well to stay at his current club and continue his development.

Wading through media speculation and agent whispers and ignoring big-money offers is not an easy task for young, ambitious footballers. Football careers are short and a transfer to a big club can fly by as quickly as it's presented.

But for Timo Werner the best course of action would be to stay put at RB Leipzig and sign a new contract. His current deal is due to expire on June 30, 2020 and a number of top clubs are circling the talented, pacy, young forward.

Leipzig, are fully aware they risk losing Werner for nothing, something which the club are not about to let happen. Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff duly handed down an ultimatum to the young forward this week – sign a new deal or leave in the summer.

"Of course we have to know by the end of the season, at the latest. Because a club like us cannot afford to keep Timo Werner in the final year of his contract,” CEO Oliver Mintzlaff told German football magazine Kicker.

Leipzig have been backed into a corner, frustrated at Werner's reluctance to commit and not willing to lose a valuable cog in their machine for no reward. If they don't sell this summer, Werner would be free to negotiate with potential new suitors at the start of 2020.

Leipzig nurture a world-class talent

The drawn-out contract saga does not reflect well on Werner. His game has become refined in Leipzig after bursting on the scene as a raw 17-year-old talent with pace to burn at VfB Stuttgart. He owes Leipzig a lot for his meteoric rise.

Timo Werner has been a regular under Jogi Löw. (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Hassenstein)

Timo Werner has been a regular under Jogi Löw.

Thirteen goals in 95 Bundesliga games was nothing exceptional, but when Leipzig were promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in 2016 they pounced to sign Werner and built their attack around him.

The then 19-year-old exploded, netting 21 goals in 31 Bundesliga games as Leipzig stormed up the table into a surprise second-place finish. Werner was not only earmarked as a future Bundesliga star but was heralded as the German national team's future front man. His form for Leipzig quickly made him a regular in Joachim Löw's Germany squads.

Champions League football also followed and Werner has now scored 55 goals in just 98 games in all competitions for Leipzig - an incredible record that was made possible due to Leipzig's trust in a prodigious talent.

Playing the majority of his football with strike partner Yussuf Poulsen, Werner has been afforded the best environment to showcase his talents and a certain level of gratitude should be forthcoming from both parties. Werner undoubtedly deserves a pay rise, Leipzig in turn deserve a little loyalty.

But in the past year, Werner's musings in the media have suggested the speedster has itchy, ambitious feet.

Werner's head turned

"I'm at a point now where at some stage in the future I'd like to play in a team that wins titles,” Werner told FourFourTwo magazine last March.

The comments sparked months-long media speculation about his future, which has only increased the longer a new contract remains unsigned.

Timo Werner was not prolific at Stuttgart (picture-alliance/dpa)

Timo Werner was not prolific at Stuttgart

Following Leipzig's 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich last month, Werner gave the biggest indication yet that his head was being turned by greater glories, and riches, in pastures new.

"I've had a nice two and a half years at Leipzig, so they are in the picture [for next season],” he said.

"There are other clubs in the picture. If you play in Germany and want to stay in Germany, there is only one club in question.”

Leipzig have been somewhat left in the lurch, the club may boast the backing of a renowned energy-drink conglomerate, but their club structure and ideology doesn't allow them to match wages of English Premier League clubs, Bayern Munich, or even Borussia Dortmund.

"If Timo doesn't go for the highest possible salary, then it would be a good investment in his sporting future,”  Mintzlaff added.

Clearly Leipzig are banking on Werner prioritizing his continued development as opposed to chasing the bright lights of bigger clubs and enlarged pay packets.

Rosy future in Leipzig

It's advice Werner would do well to heed, even if it will be tempting to snap at a big-money offer from defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich or from reported English Premier League suitors Liverpool and Chelsea.

First-team opportunities would not be as easily forthcoming at any of those clubs.

The youngster also still has much to learn and a lot to prove. He isn't yet the finished article, despite his astounding goal record, and still struggles to operate as a long striker. At Leipzig next season Werner will have the chance to work under Europe's brightest young coach, Julian Nagelsmann, who is joining this summer from Hoffenheim.

Werner's ability to perform in a system which suits his attributes and aims to get the best from those talents will be further bolstered by new ideas and advice from Nagelsmann's bright, young mind.

At 22, Werner has time on his side. A move to a bigger club is still possible in three or even five years time, with plenty of opportunities to add silverware. And if Leipzig continue their upward trajectory and hold onto their stars, overtaking their Bundesliga rivals and targeting trophies at home and abroad is not out of the question.

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