2017 22under22 Countdown – #21: Timo Werner

Timo Werner

“Werner is a young and interesting player with a good perspective. He’s versatile and has constantly played at a high level this season.”

– Joachim Low

Date of Birth: March 6, 1996 (21 years old)
Nationality: German
Position: Striker/Winger
Club Appearances: 120 (28 goals)
International Appearances: 1
EiF Ability Rating: 60

*EiF Ability Rating is a representation of a combination of the player’s current ability and potential ability. It is determined by multiple rounds of voting, and then an addition of the scores given by each judge. The maximum score a player can have is 80.*

This is the second installment of EiF’s 2017 22under22 project, a countdown in which we will reveal the top 22 players in the world who were born no earlier than 1995. We move to #21 with one of the list’s most prolific strikers: Timo Werner. After his summer move to RB Leipzig, Werner has enjoyed a breakout season, tallying 15 goals so far. After recently being capped by the senior German national team, the youngster is being tipped for greatness by many pundits.

Great things have long been expected of Timo Werner. The German hitman made his professional debut as a 17-year-old for his boyhood club, VfB Stuttgart. Over the next three seasons, Werner appeared for Stuttgart 95 times, primarily as a winger. Last summer, RB Leipzig purchased the prodigal youngster for £8 million. Since then, Werner has moved to the striker position and already has more goals this season (15) than he did in all of his time at Stuttgart (13). His resurgence has caught the eye of Joachim Low as well as those of clubs such as Liverpool and Tottenham.


Timo WernerTimo Werner scoring against Hertha Berlin. The German has scored 15 time this year.
Photo: (Squawka)

When people watch Timo Werner play, the first thing that comes to mind is speed. Werner has lightning-fast pace and uses this to his advantage as often as possible. A joy to watch on the counter attack, the young German is always playing right on the defensive line. Even if he doesn’t receive the ball, his runs continuously open up channels for his teammates. To go along with his pace, Timo Werner never seems to let up. His stamina is top-notch, and is evident in his willingness to make the same runs over and over again as well as his tendency to put more pressure on goalkeepers and defenders than most strikers.

Werner is constantly playing off of the central defender’s back. His spatial awareness and tactical intelligence are unparalleled for his age. As mentioned before, his runs are very clever, and he knows when to make space for his teammates and when to look for a route to goal himself. Werner is always floating around the defense and moves with the team. This allows the youngster to seemingly always be in the right position, similar to fellow German Thomas Muller.


Timo WernerTimo Werner has attracted interest from the likes of Liverpool and Spurs. How long can Leipzig hang on to him?
(Photo: theScore)

The most glaring weakness Werner has is his inability to play with his back to the goal. Werner is not a large target forward and that shows in his play. The German rarely holds the ball up and instead relies on his strike partner, Yussuf Poulsen, to do that work. While this is a weakness of Werner’s, it does allow him to play off the backs of the defenders and make his trademark runs more often.

Werner also loves being close to the offside line, and as a result he gets caught offsides quite often. He averages 1.5 offsides a game, which is very high for a prolific goal scorer like Werner. Hopefully, maturity will come with experience and that number will decrease as he gets older.

Additionally, Werner can be frustrating to his teammates at times because of his sub-par passing ability. His misplaced passes can bring counterattacks to a halt or turn over the ball at unexpected and disadvantageous times. He needs to improve his crossing as well, which was a constant source of criticism when he was playing on the wing at Stuttgart.  All in all, the young German does have some weaknesses but still has plenty of time to fix them.

Timo Werner has come in 21st in this year’s list, but if he can undergo a Aubameyang-esque transformation from an attacker who relies solely on his pace to an attacker who has the whole package, he could develop into a devastating goal scorer. His combination of spacial awareness and speed has made him a top goal scorer for the second placed team in the Bundesliga at the moment. His performances this year have attracted the attention of many Premier League clubs and a move to England may be on the cards in the near future. Timo Werner has been one of the most exciting players to watch in the Bundesliga this year, and if he pushes on from his recent German national team debut, he will be a star on the international stage in no time as well.

Next: No. 20, the next great Spanish midfielder Marco Asensio.

Previous: No. 22, breakout Brazilian striker Vinicius Junior.