So here we are again, three months before the transfer window even opens and another story has emerged and been shut down within the space of 24 hours. The story surrounding Timo Werner blew up after a report from Bild said Jurgen Klopp was in close contact with his agent and was charged with the task of convincing the young German striker to move to Merseyside as opposed to Madrid; this was then shut down by the wave of a magic James Pearce wand and the narrative coming out of Melwood was that Rhian Brewster would see himself fast-tracked into the first team upon his return from injury, striker problem sorted right?
Not exactly, even if Liverpool keep all their current first team strikers and add Brewster to the fold you’re a Firmino injury away from having Ings as the most senior striker in the team. For a squad brimming with talent and holding hopes of competing for Domestic and European titles is that really the scenario we want to find ourselves in? Brewster is clearly a talented player but currently the three of Ings, Solanke and Brewster wouldn’t score enough goals should something happen to Firmino.
Brewster looked in fine form for the youth teams at both Liverpool and England but moving to the first team is a tough ask, he only has to look sideways at Solanke to see a top U23’s player and U20’s World Cup Golden Ball winner struggling to make much of an impact when called upon by Jurgen Klopp; it doesn’t reflect badly on Solanke but just shows a top youth talent that needs a bit longer to develop into a first team striker.
Being fast-tracked to the first team doesn’t necessarily mean he’s now second choice option upfront but the emergence of Brewster shouldn’t stunt the moves that the club are making in the transfer market. We’ve made a big commitment by throwing a lot of money at Van Dijk and Naby Keita so why should we sell ourselves short for attacking options; we’ve clearly got the money after the Coutinho sale so we should go ahead and use it before someone beats us to the punch.
Timo Werner is currently that fine blend of a World Class player who is at a club widely considered to be a step down from Liverpool; just like his team-mate Naby Keita the hard part shouldn’t be convincing them to come it’s convincing his club to sell the player to us (especially after the Keita saga). Liverpool need to approach the Werner situation in a similar way to how they approached Van Dijk, there are a bunch of elite clubs sniffing around and enquiring about the German striker but it needs to be us that takes the leap and commits ourselves to the player before anyone else does, without needing to apologise and withdraw our interest first.
A lot of people’s issue with Werner is that ‘he wouldn’t join just to come and sit on our bench behind Firmino’ but when has that ever been a club’s selling point? Werner would come to Liverpool looking to displace Firmino in the team and the competition that breeds between the players pushes them to strive for a greater level of performance. We’re at a point now as a squad where no new signing should expect to be walking straight into the first team, there’s a philosophy to learn, a footballing ethos that needs to be ingrained into their play and if they combine that with good showings off the bench then it leads the way to the starting XI week in week out.
There’s also the fact that Jurgen Klopp’s team are now looking to be competing on four different fronts each season, if you progress in the cup competitions then you’re looking at playing up to 60 games. We all know Firmino has an engine on him but even he couldn’t consistently play twice a week for a whole season, there’s a weird feeling around some fans that the team can’t have two good strikers because one will be on the managers case to be playing every game like it’s a FIFA Career mode. Chelsea have Morata and Giroud, City have Aguero and Jesus, United (briefly) had Lukaku and Ibrahimovic yet the idea of Liverpool doing this seems alien to some.
Timo Werner is a very good player and at the age of 22 he has such a high ceiling that a manager like Jurgen Klopp can help him hit. Would he look out of place at a Real Madrid or Bayern Munich? No. Is that the type of player Liverpool are now aiming for and realistically convincing to join the club? Yes. It would take a lot of money to get him here but the great part about that is that with Firmino already our established striker it takes the lime light and pressure off him; whatever the price tag is. Take Manchester City for example, they spend a lot of money on players that don’t exactly need to hit the ground running and because of that they flourish. They paid up to £50 million for a 20-year-old Sane but because the club protected him and made him play a bit part role initially then nobody batted an eye lid, now that fee looks an absolute bargain. Contrast that with Manchester United’s signing of Martial; the player was the same age and they actually paid less for the French winger but because he had to be thrust straight into the first team his price was scrutinised from day one.
That’s been Liverpool’s problem in the past, their big money signings are high profile and are usually a replacement for a player on their way out to Barcelona or Real Madrid. This then heaps added pressure on an already toxic situation and that’s how you end up with Andy Carroll as your record signing for the best part of six years. If Liverpool were to bring in Werner then he can shadow Firmino and come into the first team fold at his own pace; it might be at an even slower pace if Jurgen Klopp decides so, you only have to look at Andy Robertson this season to prove how good the German’s man management is.
It’s all well and good having both eyes fixed firmly on the future but you have to look at what the club is doing now, if you want to win silverware then you can’t compromise with players like Danny Ings as your second-choice striker. There was a point early on where it looked like Ings could really do a job for Liverpool but two massive injuries have changed that, he’s very likeable and its admirable that he’s been able to come back from those injuries but they aren’t the type of things that win you trophies. Ings is at the stage where if he’s not contributing to the first team then he’s only stunting the growth of Solanke and Brewster by staying and taking their places in the League Cup or development matches.
Overall, Liverpool are basically a Timo Werner away from being set up for the foreseeable future. Having two class strikers at the club and two young players acting as their understudies sets us up nicely for the next decade or so, the missing piece is just adding silverware to that squad. It’s one thing for Rhian Brewster to be in and around a Liverpool first team but its another thing if he’s around a first team that has something to shout about; winning breeds more winners and that’s exactly what Liverpool have been missing for the past seven or eight years.
Article by Louis Connor
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