Timo Werner next club: Transfer interest rated amid Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid links

James Robson, Jack Rosser, David Lynch, Ben Hayward
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Clubs across Europe are expected to take a more frugal approach to the next transfer window as they come to terms with the cost of the coronavirus pandemic.

And that is likely to have a major impact on a number of players who had hoped to earn themselves a big move this summer, with RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner chief among them.

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Germany international looked a dead cert to have his release clause triggered by Premier League champions-elect Liverpool.

But now the Reds are reportedly hesitating over that €50million fee, potentially leaving the door open for rivals home and abroad to make a swoop.

Our correspondents examine the options available to Werner ahead of a big call over his future...

(Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool

Liverpool might be doing all they can to distance themselves from a move privately, but they still seem the most logical destination for Werner.

The 24-year-old has gone public with his desire to work under Jurgen Klopp on a number of occasions, but there are plenty of reasons why that feeling might be mutual beyond his impressive goal record.

Firstly, Werner’s experiences in Leipzig mean he is already attuned to the high-intensity brand of football favoured by Klopp and shouldn’t need too long to adapt.

Secondly, he is in the perfect age bracket to work towards succeeding one of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino.

"A signing that looks like value even in a post-coronavirus market."

David Lynch, Liverpool correspondent

And, finally, the Reds’ excellent relationship with the Red Bull hierarchy - built while bringing in Naby Keita and Takumi Minamino from Leipzig and Salzburg respectively - should make negotiations straightforward.

Liverpool are right to be wary about committing themselves to spending major sums in the upcoming transfer market given the uncertainty that lies ahead.

But their willingness to still listen to offers for Xherdan Shaqiri suggests confidence that fees won’t be so badly affected as to render outgoing transfers pointless.

If that is the case, then it would be difficult to understand club chiefs talking themselves out of making a signing that looks like value even in a post-coronavirus market.

Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a big admirer of Werner, with sources suggesting the striker had moved up the manager's list of targets before the season was brought to a halt.

A prolific goalscorer was one of the Norwegian’s priorities for his second summer transfer window after missing out on Erling Braut Haaland in January.

Moussa Dembele is also among the list of names drawn up by United’s transfer committee, with Wolves’ Raul Jimenez also impressing Solskjaer.

United’s refusal to enter negotiations over a permanent deal for Odion Ighalo suggests they want to pursue longer-term targets at the end of the season – but they have been forced to review spending plans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

At a cost of £50m, Werner is a relative bargain for one of the best prospects in Europe. And a move for him would echo the signing of Fred two years ago when United avoided protracted negotiations with Shakhtar by triggering the Brazilian’s buyout clause.

While Ed Woodward has promised Solskjaer he will be competitive in the market even after the devastating financial impact of Covid-19, United are redrawing transfer plans and much will depend on who they manage to offload.

Jadon Sancho remains the priority and is likely to take up the majority of their budget – even if United are no longer prepared to make him the most expensive signing in their history by meeting Borussia Dortmund’s £100million-plus valuation.

With Jude Bellingham a player they are determined to sign for around £30million and Jack Grealish and James Maddison their targets at No.10, it remains to be seen if they can afford a striker as well as Sancho.

"Solskjaer could hold off on moves for Grealish or Maddison."

James Robson, Manchester football correspondent

But if Paul Pogba ends up staying at the club, with Real Madrid and Juventus both unlikely to come up with the funds to convince United to sell, they could hold off on moves for Grealish or Maddison.

United have extensively analysed Werner – but a big question will be whether he can flourish in the Premier League.​ Solskjaer prefers to sign British or Premier League-proven talent.

While January signing Bruno Fernandes has been a major success, United took months before completing the deal, with Solskjaer initially interested as far back as March last year.

With money at a premium, he will want to be certain Werner is the right target.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Manchester City

Manchester City could have a Leroy Sane-sized hole to fill in the summer and Werner’s versatility certainly fits Pep Guardiola’s idea of a forward.

With Sergio Aguero entering the final year of his contract, City need to start thinking about how to replace their record goalscorer.

But their priorities lie elsewhere when the window opens.

"Top of Guardiola’s wanted list is a centre-back after missing out on Maguire."

James Robson, Manchester football correspondent

Top of Guardiola’s wanted list is a centre-back after paying the price for missing out on Harry Maguire last season when failing to fill the void left by Vincent Kompany.

Left-back is also one of the areas identified as in need of strengthening, while right-back will also need to be addressed if Joao Cancelo leaves after an underwhelming year at the Etihad.

While Guardiola is intent on giving Phil Foden a chance to replace the departing David Silva, he could yet change his mind regarding such a key position.

With finances dramatically reduced by the impact of coronavirus, it remains to be seen how much money Guardiola will have to spend considering the losses of two pivotal players in Kompany and Silva as free agents.

City were demanding around £140million for Sane last summer – but will not be able to command anywhere near that figure in the current climate.

(Getty Images)

Chelsea

Chelsea have kept a close eye on Werner's progress and situation in Germany as they look to provide a higher calibre of competition and support for Tammy Abraham.

Their top target, however, has been Lyon striker Moussa Dembele.

Plus, with Olivier Giroud having agreed to take up the one-year extension option in his deal, priorities may well be elsewhere - such as left-back - during what is going to be a very reduced market this summer.

(Getty Images)

Barcelona

Barcelona want to bring in a centre-forward this summer as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez and the Catalan club have identified Lautaro Martinez as their top target.

The Argentine has a €111 million release clause, though, and Inter Milan are holding out for the full amount.

With Barca struggling for funds at the moment, more so following the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, that fee could prove prohibitive and the LaLiga leaders will need to sell players first.

If Barca cannot find the money for Martinez, Werner could come into play as an alternative due to his lower price, although there are some doubts at Camp Nou over whether he is the right type of forward for the Blaugrana and if Lautaro does not join.

Coach Quique Setien could decide to keep faith in Suarez and February signing Martin Braithwaite for the 2020-21 season.​

(AP)

Real Madrid

Real Madrid still need goals following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 and Los Blancos have identified Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland as their two top transfer targets.

However, both of those deals are extremely complicated – especially after the coronavirus crisis – and neither player looks likely to arrive at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer.

As things stand, Madrid are prepared to wait for both, believing they can bring in Mbappe in 2021 and Haaland in 2022, when his release clause drops to €75 million.

"Madrid believe they can sign Mbappe and Haaland."

Ben Hayward, Spanish football correspondent

In the meantime, coach Zinedine Zidane is expected to keep faith in Karim Benzema and Luka Jovic, who has scored only twice in a difficult debut season at the Bernabeu.

Timo Werner is on a secondary list of targets and could become an option if Madrid struggle for goals in the remainder of this season, which will resume next month, and the club decide they cannot wait another year to solve their dependence on Benzema.​

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