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How Would Timo Werner Benefit Manchester United?

Manchester United have been linked with a shock move for former Chelsea striker Timo Werner in the January Transfer Window, and it’s a link that has left many people wondering why. Werner wasn’t a true success at Chelsea in terms of his goalscoring and finishing metrics, but he did do a lot of good things in and out of possession at times during his stint at the club. He will never be a starting striker that a top club can hang their hat on week in and week out, but he can definitely be a second-choice striker who can make a difference in certain games.

United are expected to be limited in what they can do due to the FFP situation that remains over the club’s head. The imminent minority takeover from Sir Jim Ratcliffe is unlikely to come into effect before the January window, so loan deals and cheap money deals are expected to be something the Reds take a strong look into. Erik ten Hag and United were forced to delve into the loan market in the last January window and signed Marcel Sabitzer and Wout Weghorst to try and help the team. Timo Werner could be another signing of that ilk this winter

Werner can play in a variety of roles. The Leipzig forward has played on either wing and can even drop into the ten at times. Erik ten Hag like many Dutch managers before him loves a multifunctional player, and Werner definitely has the ability to do a job in several roles across the pitch. United may be wary of losing Jadon Sancho in the summer and could be keen to bring in a short-term option that can play right-wing or left-wing when called upon.

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What Can Timo Werner Bring?

First of all, Werner can bring an extremely good pressing presence up front. Erik ten Hag likes his strikers to press from the front and be that first line of defense, and Werner gives a team the ability to do that with his work rate. This was seen numerous times during his period at Chelsea and was one of the standout assets of the German during his time at the club.

During his first stint at RB Leipzig, Werner had 8.90 pressures per 90 in the final third. During his time at Chelsea in the first season, he had 4.76 pressure regains per 90 and contributed to 3.91 turnovers per 90 for his side. Those are impressive numbers, and something Erik ten Hag will be paying close attention to if the rumors are set that United is interested in making a move for Werner.

For Leipzig this season Werner averages 0.37 interceptions per 90, which puts him 88th percentile amongst forwards in Europe’s top five leagues. He also ranks 93 percentile for progressive carries. This will tie into Erik ten Hag’s desire for Manchester United to be an explosive team on the counterattack. With Werner’s ability to drive forward progressively with the ball accompanied by his blistering pace, Erik ten Hag may see some serious potential in the signing of the German.

The Negatives Of Werner:

Werner’s struggles are well documented. They were on show at Chelsea more than anything, where he really struggled in front of goal. Prior to signing for Chelsea, Werner was amongst the top 20 most prolific players on the planet since 2016. Goals were hard to come by at Stamford Bridge however, and his stock fell off massively during his time at the club.

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Werner does average significantly more shots on target than United’s other strikers Rasmus Hojlund and Anthony Martial, and also has a better shooting success than both players. His shooting stats however don’t exactly solve the problem United currently has up front. The Reds would benefit from a prolific striker who over-performs his xG significantly. Werner is underperforming by -0.4.

Worth A Punt?

As signings go on loan or cheap in the January window, Manchester United could do a lot worse than Timo Werner. There are of course negatives with the signing in terms of his ability in front of the goal, but as a second/third choice option in a forward area on a limited budget, Werner represents good business. He has extreme pace, a willingness to comply tactically and the ability to press from the front in a manner not many United players can match. United are paying close attention to him according to Fabrizio Romano, and he could be one of a couple of signings they look to get over the line in January.

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Alternatives:

There are a number of other players United could look to sign in January for a cut-price fee. Nico Williams from Athletic Bilbao is an option United simply cannot pass up on. With 6 months left on his deal in Spain, it would be foolish for United not to offer Bilbao a cut-price deal. Williams is one of the best forwards available on the market and would change the dynamic of United almost immediately.

Juventus are interested in Jadon Sancho, so United should offer them an ultimatum. Matias Soule is on loan from Juventus at Frosinone, and Soule is a right-winger who could slot straight into United’s team. The Argentine is a dribbling phenomenon and has similar traits to Jeremy Doku in how talented he is in 1v1 situations. United lacks a player who can do that on either side consistently, and Soule would change that almost immediately. It’s an unlikely situation for United to explore, but they could do a lot worse than trying.

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A lot to ponder for United in January, and the club needs to make sure they make the right choices.

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