Timo Werner has returned to RB Leipzig. The Bundesliga club made the transfer official on Tuesday evening after the striker was spotted throughout Leipzig and then said goodbye to Chelsea fans on his Twitter account. Shortly after, Leipzig also officially announced that Werner had signed on a permanent deal until 2026.
According to Transfermarkt, the transfer fee will be $20 million initially, plus performance-based add-ons that could see the deal grow to around $30 million. Once all add-ons are met, Werner could become the most expensive transfer in club history. Overall, the deal is significantly below the $58.3 million Chelsea paid for Werner to Leipzig in the summer of 2020.
“Timo Werner is a fantastic striker who brings another dynamic to our attack thanks to his profile,” technical director Christopher Vivell said in a club statement. He has a lot of experience on the international stage and knows RB Leipzig very well. He’ll take on a leading role here. We have a brilliant level of variety and depth in our attack and a lot of quality going forward.”
During his first stint with the club, the 26-year-old striker was a prolific goalscorer. Werner scored 90 goals and 40 assists and remains the club’s record goalscorer.
“I am very happy to be back at RB Leipzig,” Werner said in a club statement. “I had a great time here between 2016 and 2020 in which we set some big benchmarks as a brand new Bundesliga team. It was an honor to leave the club as the record goalscorer. That is now the past; I am now looking forward to the future because, just like myself, the club has moved forward in the last two years.”
Whether Werner has developed at the same pace as Leipzig remains to be seen, however. During his spell at Chelsea, the German national team striker managed 23 goals and 21 assists in 89 games across all competitions.
Signed as a no.9, Werner, however, never managed to fulfill the high expectations placed on him by the club and its fans. Whether that was all Werner’s fault is another question. Chelsea is a notorious graveyard for top strikers. Werner is already the second striker signed with high expectations to depart this summer after the Blues loaned Romelu Lukaku back to Inter Milan.
Werner’s biggest problems at Chelsea were the club’s inability to find a true playing philosophy and give him a partner that could unleash him at just the right moment. Werner, in turn, needs to be faulted for not developing his game sufficiently, and the arrival of VARAR -4.1% means that his inability to time runs at just the right moment is now pronounced more than ever.
Helping Werner find the right timing is going to be paramount for Leipzig head coach Domenico Tedesco. Fitting him into a system that already includes forwards André Silva, Christopher Nkunku, Yussuf Poulsen, Hugo Novoa, Emil Forsberg, and Dominik Szoboszlai will be another difficult task.
Tedesco has incredible depth in attack, and finding the right mix will be complicated. The matter is not helped by the fact that in Benjamin Šeško from sister club Red Bull Salzburg the club has already secured another striker for 2023.
Furthermore, the move does not help Leipzig with other issues in the squad. Central midfield, even though Konrad Laimer is now set to stay, remains thin. In defense, signing another center-back also seems paramount.
For now, the enthusiasm that will come with Werner’s signing will paint over most of the deficiencies that his squad still possesses. But the truth also is, despite the striker’s arrival, this squad does not quite yet seem finished.