RB Leipzig and Germany star the prototype modern striker

RB Leipzig and Germany star the prototype modern striker

By / Bundesliga / Sunday, 07 July 2019 12:12

Historically, a forward would wear a No.9 or No.10 jersey and be measured on their ability to put the ball in the back of the net – nothing more, nothing less.

While that remains a vital remit of a modern-day striker, the position has evolved and there is arguably no better embodiment of the new role than Werner.

The 23-year-old could even wear a No.7 or No.11 jersey - shirt numbers typically given to wingers - such is his versatility.

Even as an attacking midfielder Werner would be able to produce the goods, and this is where the Leipzig and Germany attacker, forward, winger or striker – label him as you will – stands out from the crowd.

"Timo's development has been fantastic," said Ralf Rangnick, his coach in Leipzig last season and the man who, in his former role of sporting director, lured Werner to Leipzig in the first place.

"He's come on leaps and bounds and we've played our part in that, and turned him into a national team player."

Indeed, Werner's rise to prominence accelerated ever since he joined Leipzig from Stuttgart in the summer of 2016.

He struck 21 goals in his first season, when he started in a No.9 position, and helped Die Roten Bullen finish second behind Bayern Munich to secure UEFA Champions League football at the end of their first season in the Bundesliga.

Werner's position did not alter a great deal in his second campaign at the club, and his prolific scoring streak continued too with five goals in the first six games of the season.

A back injury knocked him off track slightly and then coach Ralph Hasenhüttl subsequently experimented with him on the right wing.

Leipzig may have lost his first game in a new position 2-1 to Freiburg, but Werner struck the consolation and showed initial glimpses of his adaptability.

Later that season, he was deployed on the left wing before being restored to the attack and scoring another of his 13 goals that term in Leipzig's historic first ever win over Bayern Munich.

A fortnight later, after spearheading Germany's attack in a 1-1 draw with Spain, Werner delegated the scoring duties to Emil Forsberg and Yussuf Poulsen with two assists contributing to a 3-2 win over Hannover.

Another string was duly added to his bow.

With Rangnick now on the Leipzig bench, Werner's role mutated again and he continued to alternate goals with assists – nine in total – to become one of the most lethal weapons in the Leipzig armoury.

No longer could opposition defenders approach Werner assuming his eye was firmly fixed on the goal; they instead had to anticipate his increasingly unpredictable intentions and movements.

To say Werner has one strong and one weak foot would be inaccurate too – he can do just as much with either, and that is another reason why he is such a fearsome prospect to defend again.

Ambidexterity, adaptability, versatility and the element of surprise render Werner not just a goalscoring menace, but also a defence-opening crowbar; a cunning multi-talented No.7 through to No.11, effective across the spectrum.

That has not been lost on Germany coach Joachim Löw either.

Particularly when it comes to World Cups and European Championships, when squad numbers are limited, the presence of an individual who can fill no fewer than four different sets of boots is a boon, and this is where Werner excels.

In 25 games for his county, which have yielded ten goals, he has tasted tactical tendencies he has not experienced at club level, playing on the left and right wing in a 4-1-4-1 formation as if he were born out there.

Author

Braithwaite Umenta

Braithwaite Umenta

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