Timo Werner scored 28 goals for RB Leipzig last season and his transfer to Chelsea in the summer was bound to have an impact on the Bundesliga club, although believe it or not, Julian Nagelsmann has found a way to plug the Germany international's gap.
While Werner continues to adapt to life in the English Premier League, scoring just four goals in his first 14 games for The Blues, Leipzig have adapted accordingly and not panicked by a downturn in goals this season; going from 36 after 13 games last term to 24 at the same stage of 2020/21.
Efficiency is the new buzzword in Leipzig, with 15 different names on the scoresheet so far this term, 12 of whom have netted in the Bundesliga. Rather than one top-scorer on 13 goals, they have spread the scoring duties more evenly. Yussuf Poulsen and Angelino lead the way with four each, with Emil Forsberg and Marcel Sabitzer both one goal further behind.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is how the goals are not just coming from different players, but from different outlets, with the left wing – an area Werner also used to exploit to great effect – supplying seven of these goals and midfielders accounting for a further seven – the same total as the forwards.
With defenders chipping in with eight, the goals really are now coming from players who operate in all areas of the field; blocking just one supply line is no longer enough to switch off Leipzig's threat, like it perhaps was with Werner on the field.
Leipzig's biggest win of the season to date was a 4-0 triumph over bottom-placed Schalke on Matchday 3. Only on four other occasions have they won games by two goals or more, with a one-goal victory occurring three times. Their only defeat of the season was also by just a single goal, with three draws completing their scoresheet.
One of those – a 3-3 tie with Bayern Munich – saw them concede a third of the goals they have shipped so far this season in just 90 minutes. It is this dimension in particular which means Leipzig without Werner seems no less likely to secure some silverware.
Peter Gulacsi has had to delve the ball out of his goal on just nine occasions in the Bundesliga – the best defensive rate of any side in Germany's top flight this season, and Leipzig's sternest ever defensive statistics since joining German football's top table. That means whenever Leipzig do score two goals or more – the Bayern game notwithstanding – they win.
Watch: Bayern and Leipzig share six-goal thriller
Losing such a prolific single source of goals in the summer, and another forward in Patrik Schick to Bayer Leverkusen, has thus not harmed Leipzig as many would have predicted. Thanks to a sublime level of efficiency.
Werner also helped Die Roten Bullen reach the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, with his four goals. Even in Europe, though, efficiency has again become the new order of the day for Leipzig, with three single-goal wins and one 2-0 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir earning them their place in the last 16.
Like in the league, they shipped a significant proportion of all the goals they conceded in just one game – a 5-0 loss at Manchester United – leaking only seven more across their other five group games combined. And in the DFB Cup, 3-0 wins over Bavarian clubs Nuremberg and Augsburg have seen them ruthlessly reach the last 16 in that competition.
So when Nagelsmann was deprived of his 28-goal hitman from last term, worry was the last thing he did.
Instead, he took it as an opportunity to sharpen up the rough edges and construct a collective that could compensate an almost inevitable drop in goals by preventing them from going in at the other end. Nagelsmann then ensured everybody – from full-back, through central defender, midfielder and winger to striker – could plunder the goals needed to ensure the points that mean Leipzig head into 2021 just two points from the Bundesliga summit, and primed to out-fox Liverpool on their way to the Champions League quarter-finals.
There is no doubting Werner's quality and credentials, but in filling the void he has left behind, it is teamwork which is making Leipzig's dream work.