Chelsea left wondering what might’ve been as Timo Werner coup ends in failure

After arriving as a transfer coup, getting into goalscoring positions remained a strength of Werner’s at Chelsea – converting chances once there, however, did not and led to a crisis of confidence

Richard Jolly
Senior Football Correspondent
Wednesday 10 August 2022 08:40 BST
Chelsea: Thomas Tuchel satisfied with Everton performance because 'a win is a win'

It was day two of Project Restart in the Premier League. As grounds were emptied, belts were tightened. Or most of them, anyway. Chelsea took advantage of others’ inability to spend, turning to the bank of Roman. They activated Timo Werner’s release clause at RB Leipzig. It was a time when deploying Roman Abramovich’s funds seemed more of a legitimate ploy. And, as budgets were frozen amid uncertainty elsewhere, Chelsea stole a march on the European elite by snapping up the Bundesliga’s two most coveted young talents.

A seemingly Real Madrid-bound Kai Havertz was redirected to Stamford Bridge. Werner, who had long looked headed for Liverpool, joined his compatriot in London. Havertz has a Champions League final winner to show for a mixed time at Chelsea, along with the possibility potential will be realised. Werner has the medal but as he retreats to back to Leipzig, it is for around half his initial price. A £25m transfer fee would amount to a similar loss for Chelsea. Coupled with the probability that they will end up writing off far more on Romelu Lukaku, after his reunion came in the form of a loan back to Inter Milan, and the last examples of Abramovich’s largesse have not had the desired benefits for Chelsea. Rather than inheriting a potent attack, perhaps Clearlake Capital bought problems.

Werner was the coup who wasn’t. In all competitions, he ended with 23 goals in 89 matches for Chelsea: underwhelming but not as bad as his Premier League return of 10 in 56. In terms of goal-per-game ratio, it was sub Andriy Shevchenko (nine in 48) and just below Fernando Torres (20 in 110). His last Bundesliga season left him second only to Robert Lewandowski for goals, with 28. Over two years in the Premier League, he was in a class of his own, albeit as an expected goals underachiever. He ended up with 9.5 fewer goals than he should, according to the quality of chances, and a portfolio of embarrassing misses.

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