19 Striker VfB Stuttgart Germany
Timo Werner became VfB Stuttgart’s youngest ever Bundesliga player when he made his debut in August 2013 as a 17-year-old. His name seems to have been on the lips of Bundesliga experts practically ever since. He’s become a regular player for a struggling side, particularly when taking into account his age, and it’s been a challenging introduction to the professional game.
While Stuttgart have bumbled along without much sense of direction for Werner’s entire senior career to date, the young striker has shown maturity in digging in his heels. He came off the bench a lot in his first couple of seasons but he’s a more frequent starter in 2015/16. His team’s never needed him more.
2015 has been…
Steady. Werner became the youngest ever to play 50 Bundesliga games in February, in a game in which he and Martin Harnik partnered up front for Stuttgart against Borussia Dortmund and struggled to get enough of the ball. Such is the task when a poor team takes on a good one; Werner was unable to impose himself.
He’s played both as a lone striker and off (ish) a front man this year, and – despite some of the evidence – we think he’s better suited to the latter. It enables him to roam around the front line and work hard from left to right and back again, which is when he really offers something a little bit extra.
Werner has lovely composure and footwork, not to mention a great first touch. He’s got a decent turn of pace and can deliver a good ball when called upon to do so. He also has a little trick in his locker on occasion and he’s really good in the air. One of his goals this season was a last-minute equaliser against Hoffenheim and it was a tremendous glancing header.
He always wants the ball and displays good reading of the game and an assured awareness of space. While he’s not a creative player in the purest sense he does show good imagination around the edge of the box and he’s able to carve something out in tight spots around the goal.
Of course, at 19, Werner’s far from the finished article. There are periods in which he barely touches the ball, but then playing up front for Stuttgart is the very definition of a thankless task. He can’t hold the ball up nearly as well as they need him to if he’s playing up front on his own, but it’s a skill he’ll undoubtedly learn.
Over and above the common need for consistency and greater productivity, Werner has a couple of battles to take on in 2016. Firstly, he’ll be keen to establish himself in a Germany shirt. He’s represented his country at the Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 levels and he made his Under-21 bow in 2015, scoring for fun in the process.
All being well he’ll eventually face the horrifying challenge that looms large in front of all German starlets: getting into the senior international team. Objectively, it looks a long way off. Time, however, is on his side.
In the short-term it’s Werner’s club that needs his attention the most. They won’t be asking for much: just fire us to safety, me ol’ son, yeah? Only Daniel Didavi has more than the three apiece scored by Werner and Daniel Ginczek in the Bundesliga so far this season; someone’s going to have to step up if Stuttgart are to escape relegation.
To achieve that, it’s clear that Werner needs to add more goals to his game. He’s played a lot since 2013 and scored just a handful of goals up until this season. Three goals netted by November represents a decent improvement but time is of the essence and Stuttgart have a holier defence than the Vatican City XI.
There’s a chance he won’t be around long enough to make up the shortfall. It was reported in September that Stuttgart tried to offload him in the summer but nobody would pay their asking price. It’s possible they still want to show him the door and raise some funds in January, so Werner might not be long for Stuttgart after all.
C- Huge responsibility on his shoulders far too young
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