Making Sense of Timo Werner joining Tottenham | THT Analysis

The Hard Tackle takes a close look at why signing Timo Werner on loancould actually work out for Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham Hotspur and the ways in which they can line him up.

Timo Werner has become Tottenham Hotspur’s first signing of the January transfer window. The Germany international joins Ange Postecoglou’s side on loan for the rest of the season from RB Leipzig after seeing his game time decline for the Bundesliga outfit this term following the summer arrivals of Lois Openda, Benjamin Sesko, and Xavi Simons.

The 27-year-old will join Spurs on loan for the remainder of the season in a deal that will include a £15.5 million option to make the switch permanent should he impress. The addition of the ex-Chelsea forward bolsters Postecoglou’s offensive options heading into the second half of the season as the Lilywhites make a dedicated push for a Champions League spot.

Does Tottenham signing Timo Werner make sense?

On the face of it, Tottenham moving to sign Chelsea flop Timo Werner appears befuddling, and it is very easy to chuckle at the idea of him and Richarlison forming the misfiring Tottenham strike-force.

Although Werner did leave Stamford Bridge with a Champions League winner’s medal after helping them beat Manchester City in the showpiece finale in 2021, he did suffer a bit of a miserable stint in front of goal after only managing 23 goals in 89 games for the Blues.

He only scored ten league goals, and no striker at a top team has ever appeared as uncertain of himself in front of goal as Werner, who had a big reputation in Europe before he stepped in at Stamford Bridge.

Throw in the bad tendency of being offside in many of the rare instances when he did manage to score; the open-net misses YouTube compilations; he was the ultimate source of football banter. Well, those were good old days!

He is largely viewed in England as an overrated striker who either cannot score goals at the Premier League level or a player devoid of confidence who struggled to deal with the expectations of a hefty price tag after his £47.5 million move. Werner scored just ten Premier League goals in two years in England.

There is also the fact that Spurs are still trying to replace Harry Kane’s clinical composure in front of goal following his summer move to Bayern Munich. And yet, when it was revealed last week that Tottenham were attempting to finalise a loan move for Werner and analysing Spurs and the player’s style of play, as well as the saying that January windows are notoriously littered with big-money disasters, it made a surprising amount of sense. Certainly more than our Twitter (oh, my bad) X feed suggests.

Tottenham have been dealing with a big availability crisis this campaign, with attacking players James Maddison, Ivan Perisic, and Alejo Veliz all sidelined, and talismanic captain Son Heung-min now expected to miss a month or more on international duty with South Korea at the Asian Cup. Their assault ranks have been decimated to the point that ineffective Bryan Gil is Postecoglou’s go-to option to change the game from the bench.

For that reason, Postecoglou has been on the lookout for another versatile attacker. Capable of operating from the left wing or through the middle as a central striker, Werner is a player capable of filling various roles despite his shortcomings.

Postecoglou instructs his side to press fiercely and attack quickly, directly, and precisely on the transition if they have the opportunity to catch the opposition when they are out of shape. That works to a treat with Werner.

For one thing, even during Werner’s worst spell at Chelsea, his endeavour, commitment, or work rate were not questioned. If anything, he was criticised for trying too hard at times when it came to slotting the ball into the net. Those are strong attributes in a Postecoglou team, though, where his pace and off-the-ball effort will make him a significant contributor to their pressing game.

On the ball, he is a player who stretches defences and pulls players out of position. His tireless running, clever movement, and lightning pace pose a huge threat and bring an element of chaos to attacks, while Postecoglou’s system caters to his strengths.

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He’s 27 years old now; one would hope that his immaturity in front of goal has started to disappear with more experience. His offensive numbers at RB Leipzig during his second spell were not bad after all: 18 goals and seven assists from 54 outings.

There is clearly a talented player in there. But someone just needs to unlock his potential. A warm and caring Postecoglou could be the manager to set him free through his Ange-ball system.In short, the Lilywhites were in desperate need of another body in attack but had no desire to spend money on the issue given the well-known January pitfalls.

Opting for a six-month loan with a purchase option for a player possessing Werner’s qualities seems to be a pragmatic move—not the ideal solution, but a smart piece of business in a difficult situation requiring creative solutions. But where will Werner play for Tottenham? Here are the two different ways Postecoglou could use him in the attack.

Possible ways Tottenham can line up with Timo Werner

As a left-sided attacker in a 4-3-3

Although the former Chelsea man is also capable of playing cross the frontline, coming in off the left flank is Werner’s most likely route into the starting XI, particularly with Son Heung-min away at the Asian Cup for the next few weeks.

Despite being first signed by Chelsea as a striker, he spent the majority of his Premier League career in this position. So, he should be pretty comfortable operating there.

For starters, Postecoglou has mainly preferred a 4-3-3 formation at Tottenham, looking to dominate the wide areas through passing patterns between the full-back, the two No. 8’s, and the winger, in addition to roaming players who overload the side where the ball is present.

In his two seasons in Scotland with Celtic, the Greek-Australian tactician relied heavily on wing play, using the wide areas to break down opponents’ defensive blocks. But he has slightly adapted his tactics to accommodate at least one inverted forward to compensate for not having a prolific striker at Spurs.

The excellent thing is that Werner can operate both as a touchline winger and in an inverted capacity. His pace and ability to run into spaces would come in handy in direct long-ball situations to bypass opposition lines of defence.

However, his best work comes when he has the opportunity to run in behind. He can often make his run on the outside of the right-back. Given he is rapid, he does not need the head-start like other forwards. So, he leaves himself less at risk of being caught offside and uses his pace rather than the timing of his runs to leave defenders behind.

Chances to score will certainly arrive at Werner’s door; it will be more about whether he’s worked on his one-on-one decision-making and shot selection.

Through the middle in a 4-3-3

There is still a good chance he will feature through the middle with Tottenham when Son returns and occupies his preferred left-wing role. Dejan Kulusevski and Brennan Johnson are versatile enough to fill the touchline winger spot in Spurs’ attack on the opposite flank to accommodate Werner down the middle, where he will be competing for a starting place with Richarlison.

Werner is one of the quickest forwards in football, and, especially in the early part of his career, he did much of his best work on the shoulder of the last defender. When playing as a centre-forward, he will likely pull towards the left, usually between centre-back and right-back so the centre-back can’t see him, and then make sharp darts inside towards the opposition goal.

However, he is adept at working between the lines, and he is comfortable coming deep to collect the ball to create for others. He is capable of receiving to his feet and transitioning into midfield to spread the ball or search for a more advanced teammate. Therefore, he is also comfortable receiving in central zones, which is very similar to Son.

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