Timo Werner is only going up after scoring his 15th Bundesliga goal of the season for RB Leipzig through just 14 games. - © DFL
Timo Werner is only going up after scoring his 15th Bundesliga goal of the season for RB Leipzig through just 14 games. - © DFL

Timo Werner hitting new heights under Julian Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig


You already know Timo Werner's a good player – you're not a full Germany international with over 200 Bundesliga appearances by the age of 23 if not – but under the guiding hand of RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann he is becoming that rarest commodity in the game: a truly elite-level attacker.

The Stuttgart native scored his 14th and 15th Bundesliga goals of the season in Leipzig's 3-1 win over Hoffenheim on Matchday 14. Let that sink in: 15 in 14 games. Not only that, he has now hit the target in five consecutive league matches for the first time ever.

To put that into perspective, only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has more this term, the Polish forward himself in the form of his life with 16. And when you factor in all competitions, the duo are virtually neck-and-neck when it comes to goal contributions: Werner has had a hand in 27 in 22 appearances (19 goals, eight assists), while Lewandowski has 27 goals and one assist in 22.

Watch: Werner sits down with bundesliga.com!

It's part of continued improvement for Werner, whose overall Bundesliga goal tallies over the past six seasons read 16, 13, 21, 6, 3 and 4 and have seen him finish each of Leipzig's three Bundesliga campaigns as the club's top scorer.

But the jump which has seen him reach 15 before the winter break in 2019/20 can be largely attributed to Nagelsmann, who, after all, has previous in helping players take their game to the next level. Sebastian Rudy, Sandro Wagner and Niklas Süle were all signed by Bayern after taking great strides under the Bundesliga's youngest-ever permanent head coach at Hoffenheim; Kerem Demirbay became a full Germany international, and Andrej Kramaric became the club's all-time top scorer. And that is by no means an exhaustive list.

"This year, we've focused on having as many shots as possible," Werner told bundesliga.com ahead of Matchday 14 when asked about Leipzig's success so far this season. "That's always a good thing for strikers, lining up the ball and focusing on how we strike the ball. We shoot a lot in games, and do it very well […] We have a particular conviction within the team, and I'm at the end of the supply chain most of the time."

Tactical tweaks have no doubt helped, but Nagelsmann believes the player himself deserves much of the credit. "He's a great guy, he's very clear-headed and is very self-aware," said the 32-year-old of Werner at the end of September. "His scoring rate right now couldn't be any better."

Sorry to contradict you, Julian, but it could. At that stage, Werner had seven goals in his first eight games of the season. Since then, confidence has grown, players have adapted to a new style and the goals are flowing.

So much so that Nagelsmann did not bat away the question when asked if his star striker could win the coveted Torjägerkanone as the Bundesliga's top scorer this season: "He definitely can. If he continues scoring like this then he'll definitely be in the running."

Julian Nagelsmann (c.) has simply been in awe of Timo Werner's (l.) performances for RB Leipzig this season. - imagoimages

In addition to a new playing style under a new coach, Werner suggested that a positional change has also contributed to his sky-rocketing reputation. "I'm playing almost as an attacking midfielder, which means I've got to play like the others do, like [Emil] Forsberg, [Marcel] Sabitzer, [Christopher] Nkunku, and get assists.

"Naturally, I've got to always link it all together. We've got to get beyond this image of me being the team's goalscorer. I want to support my teammates instead. It's working well, especially when we play well together. The lads know that when they set me up, I'll happily return the favour.”

That ties in with Germany head coach Joachim Löw's view of the attacker: "I think he's a different player to a classic No.9," he said at the beginning of December. "Timo's someone who can play off a centre forward or can play out wider. He's been an important player for us for a long time now […] I'm well aware of Timo's qualities. He's scoring an incredible amount of goals for Leipzig. He's really quick and that can cause problems for the opposition. He's obviously a cornerstone of our squad."

Watch: Werner's electrifying hat-trick vs. Gladbach!

And so a picture emerges. Pace? Check. Confidence? Check. Eye for goal, positional flexibility, tactical awareness, team player? Check, check, check, check! The good news for Leipzig and Germany is that Werner is not content to stop there and constantly strives to improve.

"Obviously I'm happy that I scored a brace, but I could've had one or two more today," he said after the Hoffenheim win on Saturday.

Nagelsmann went into even greater detail as to what he could do better. "I'll speak to Timo, but not about the missed chances," he said at his post-match press conference. "There were four or five situations where he could have closed down the opposition earlier. It was usually against [Kevin] Akpoguma.

"If he'd been ahead of him he could have intercepted a lot of balls and back passes. A lot of the time they played 'no-look' first-time passes, so we could've won the ball back a few more times. I think Timo had about seven chances and scored one from open play and one from the penalty spot, so he did his job. He was impressive."