Timo Werner: German Expert On Stuttgart Starlet Arsenal Should Sign
Man United need to make some changes and fast so we found German football expert George Stoneman running the rule over Stuttgart's Timo Werner, the 17-year-old second-striker making waves in the Bundesliga, and the man we think Moyes need to sign as soon as possible...
Before the weekend commencing on the 9th November 2013, unless you were an avid follower of the German game, Timo Werner probably wasn’t a name you were overly familiar with, but after a man of the match performance versus Freiburg over the aforementioned weekend, Werner’s name was on the lips of Bundesliga fans across the world, but none more so than the Stuttgart fans themselves, who appear to have the next Mario Gomez or Sami Khedira on their hands.
Starting football aged four, after his parents signed him up for the lowest youth level of local side TSV Steinhaldenfeld, if you fast forward 13 years and the local lad in Stuttgart is putting his stamp of first team proceedings in one of Europe’s top leagues.
Whilst it would be easy to think that nothing of much note could happen for a player who only finishes his A-levels next Spring, Werner has had a huge impact for both club and country through the various youth teams and set-ups, and looks more than likely to continue having such impact for both.
Initially seen as an integral part of the Swabian’s second string this season, it wasn’t until his impressive pre-season lead to former coach Bruno Labbadia promoting him to the first team and giving him his debut in the Europa League qualification game versus Botev Plovdiv on August 1st, aged just 17 years, four months and 25 days, thus making him the youngest ever Bundesliga player of Stuttgart, taking the record off Gerhard Poschner.
But what was it that Werner produced in the youth teams that led to Labbadia throwing him in at the deep end with no worries about how he may perform under the new physicality and strains of the more advanced leagues? Well, it was because Werner had far outgrown the youth team and was as good as, if not better than, what Stuttgart already had on that left side of midfield.
On his debut for the German u-15 side, aged 14, where they beat Poland 5-1, Werner scored a hat-trick and fast forward 18 months, he was being called up to the u-17 side for the European Championships, where they came second to the Netherlands, and in the same season, scored 24 times for Stuttgart’s u-17 side, helping them reach the Bundesliga final, where they lost rather surprisingly to Hertha BSC, despite having being heavily backed as favourites due to Werner’s presence in the side.
Werner admits it was difficult to take, but it was also something he learnt a great deal from, “After that I did not want to have anything to do with football for two weeks straight.
I was fed up with the sport. But as the new season started, everything was forgotten.”
The following season, his progress continued to move forward in the A-Jugend Bundesliga, where he scored another 24 goals and added 6 assists to his tally, all within 23 games, with the form being something he carried over to the national set up too, where 18 goals and three assists followed in just 17 games.
And in Germany this type of form doesn’t go unnoticed. Werner won the Fritz Walter Medal at the end of the campaign, meaning he was seen as the best German youth player in his age group. It is the highest youth football accolade in Germany and a prize won by a member of VfB Stuttgart’s youth sides most years, a testament to their production line of talent and coaching at youth level.
This all led to his inclusion in Vfb’s pre-season squad, where he was starting to experience the perks of being a first-team member, such as not having to clean his own boots after games and training. And despite still being eligible for another season in the A-Jugend BuLi, Labbadia felt he was ready for the step up, mainly due to the pure ability he possesses.
And like most players his age, he is still trying to get his round how quickly things have progressed for him,
“The first time practicing with the professionals was something completely new for me.
Until that day, I only knew the players from watching them on television but now I sit next to them in the dressing room”
But back to his ability, Werner, despite possessing the traits, is not all about pace, goals and skill, he is much more old fashioned, and less full of flair, than most young wingers are currently. Werner is also powerful, despite only being 17, he is 6ft tall and has a superb physique, his two goals at the weekend highlighting this. His first, the Freiburg defenders couldn’t stop him once he started running, twisting and turning, and his second where he bullied the defender off the ball before finishing with aplomb, when lesser players would have played the simple pass sideways.
He has a thunderbolt of a shot when needed and his pace and lethal nature in front of goal from that left hand side is why new Stuttgart Thomas Schneider coach has stuck with Werner, once Labbadia departed. It’s a great signal of faith from his new manager, when it would have been very easy for him to put him back in the second string and nurture his talent at a slower pace, but when a player like Werner has so much talent in abundance, it was only the right thing to do to keep in the first team fold.
The right-footed youngster, somewhat reminiscent to Andrei Arshavin in looks, but that’s not the point, is very much one of Germany’s brightest young talents and we're in no doubt that you will see his talent on the biggest stages in football very soon.
This feature originally appeared on DeutschFootball.com
Follow George on Twitter @DeutschFootball
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