When is a denial not a denial? When the club in question play down reports in the meekest terms possible.
“We hear these reports all the time,” RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff told Transfermarkt when asked about speculation that Liverpool had made contact over Timo Werner.
“Someone makes something up, and everyone else copies it. Werner is happy here and wants to play the rest of the season.”
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Of course, Werner wants to stay at Leipzig for the rest of the season. The transfer window is closed so it is impossible for the striker to go anywhere. But Mintzlaff makes no promises for anything after this season, leaving the door wide open for further speculation over the striker’s future.
The 23-year-old has been a target of many other European giants as well as from Liverpool, with Chelsea considering an offer in January. The Blues decided not to pursue a deal during the winter window as Werner does not want to change clubs until after the European Championship.
Euro 2020 could increase his stock even further, with the Germany international already boasting an impressive return of 11 goals in 29 games for his country, as well as the Confederations Cup Golden Boot.
Werner looks like the only player capable of stopping Bayern Munich behemoth Robert Lewandowski from finishing top scorer in the Bundesliga this season. The Polish striker currently leads the race with 22 goals, but his Leipzig counterpart is close behind on 20 goals after 22 league games.
That impressive form has also brought him to the attention of Manchester United, but Werner claims he is not thinking about his future just yet.
“When you score 20 goals as a 23-year-old in a season then, of course, there is interest. That’s clear,” he told Kicker.
“But, right now, I am not thinking about what happens in the future.
“We are going into many important games. That’s what I want to focus on now. I can still contemplate my future later.”
However, like Mintzlaff, he stopped well short of ruling out a change at some point: “What do you say if a club comes knocking, a club which is one of the favourites to win the Champions League and makes an incredible offer? Most likely every player would think about it.
“I can generally imagine playing abroad one day, although I don’t have any specific club where I want to be.
“I am open for everything. I was over in America for a holiday recently and English football was on all of the time. That’s an exclamation mark for the Premier League. But there are also big, famous clubs and it would certainly be fun playing there.”
Due to a release clause in his RB Leipzig contract, Werner will not be the subject of a bidding war this summer, but he will definitely be one of the most in-demand players on the market.
Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic cast doubts over his club’s pursuit of the striker, indicating that he does not fit the lone-striker role in the same way as Lewandowski.
“Robert is a striker who fits our style of play perfectly,” Salihamidzic told Bild.
“Robert has the ability to orientate himself in a tight space, the technical ability to move in tight spaces and to find extraordinary solutions with the ball.
“With his speed, Timo Werner needs more room, which he had in the system that Leipzig played. The system at RB has now changed, but it is still not as tight at the front as it is with us.”
A converted winger, Werner often uses his pace and running ability to get the better of opposition defenders. Last season, this usually involved playing off Danish powerhouse Yussuf Poulsen, who would win aerial challenges and knock the ball on for Werner to get in behind.
This season, new Red Bulls head coach Julian Nagelsmann has switched things up, sometimes partnering Werner with Czech forward Patrik Schick instead of Poulsen, or even pushing Werner back out to the wing in support of a central striker.
This versatility makes Werner a unique forward, which differentiates him from the classic No.9 Lewandowski represents. Salihamidzic may have used this as a stick to beat Werner with, but other teams will be drawn to a player who can play anywhere across the frontline and in a variety of formations.
It is no surprise that Liverpool have been linked as Werner shares certain traits with all of Jurgen Klopp’s first-choice forwards.
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He is happy to drop deep and harry defenders like Roberto Firmino, possesses quick feet and great agility like Sadio Mane, and is very dangerous when he gets behind defence and is a cool finisher like Mohamed Salah.
Werner’s Liverpool links were even joked about by Leipzig’s English-language Twitter account, who replied to the reports with “We heard he is headed towards Tottenham, though…”
The striker will line out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday, as an away player in the Champions League.
In a few months, though, he may be back as an away player in the Premier League.