It seemed almost a given that Timo Werner would be joining Liverpool this summer.
Jurgen Klopp is known to be a huge fan of the RB Leipzig frontman, and the tabloids have reported that he and the player had been having discussions with the 24-year-old on Zoom during the lockdown period.
To make life even easier, the prolific forward has a £54 million release clause in his contract with the German club, and that is relatively small change when you consider the goals he has scored in the Bundesliga and the Champions League.
But amazingly, the move – priced at odds-on in the ‘Timo Werner Next Club’ betting market – was hijacked by the unlikeliest of sources.
Although not yet confirmed, the media is heavily reporting that Werner has now instead reportedly signed a deal with Chelsea, and he will now enter contract talks with the London club.
He will be the second marquee signing that Frank Lampard has made, with Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech also set to head for Stamford Bridge in a £37 million move.
Apparently, Liverpool didn’t want to meet the release clause in the German’s contract in these uncertain times, and Chelsea have taken the plunge to capture Werner instead – a move that was priced at 12/1 in the relevant betting market.
Can the Blues Challenge for Honours in 2020/21?
It looks as if Roman Abramovich will be supporting Lampard in the transfer market given his movement so far, and it has also been rumoured that Chelsea are in the market for a left back – Leicester’s Ben Chilwell is on the radar.
The Blues were handed a transfer ban in the summer of 2019 and so they are making up for lost time on the recruitment front. The new faces, aided by the development of young starlets such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, have left many Chelsea fans optimistic about the future.
And why not? Werner has blasted 32 goals and counting during the 2019/20 campaign for Leipzig, while Ziyech has impressed in continental competition for Ajax.
Many of the bookmakers have actually taken down their outright odds for the 2020/21 season given the disruption, but of those where prices can still be found Chelsea are available at a meaty 33/1 to challenge for the Premier League title.
As you would expect, champions-elect Liverpool are the favourites at around the 8/11 mark, with Manchester City – expected to undergo something of an overhaul themselves in the summer transfer window – next best at 9/4.
At the time that the 2019/20 campaign was halted, Chelsea were just five points behind Leicester in third and nine adrift of Manchester City in second, and it’s possible that the signings of Werner and Ziyech – plus the further development of their young stars – could help to overcome that deficit next season.
It would be foolish to suggest that the Blues will overhaul Liverpool in 2020/21, but the ambition they have shown in the transfer market suggests a second-place finish could be there for the taking.