As well as being a deadly finisher and fine provider for teammates, RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's standout attribute is undoubtedly his blistering pace. But unlike his ability in front of goal, speed can't be trained in the eyes of Leipzig's No.11.
Werner is far more than just a goalscorer. No player has been involved in as many Bundesliga goals as the Germany striker in 2019/20, with 13 scored and five assisted for a teammate in the first 13 games of the season.
Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com, Leipzig's speed demon talks all things Roten Bullen, becoming the youngest player in history to make 200 top-flight appearances, his dream of winning the Meisterschale and more...
bundesliga.com: What has been the key to RB Leipzig's recent success?
Timo Werner: "I think it's going well. I feel the way we play football as a team and the strikers fit together well. We focused a lot last year on not conceding and keeping clean sheets. This year, we've focused on having as many shots as possible. 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 play very well out from the back. We have a particular conviction within the team, and I'm at the end of the supply chain most of the time. Then, of course, it's my job to score. That's expected of me and it's working, that's clear. However, I try to assist my teammates as much as possible."
Watch: Timo Werner: from flying machine to goal machine!
bundesliga.com: How has it been working with Julian Nagelsmann so far?
Werner: "He's a very relaxed guy whom you can talk to about football and other things really well. You can joke around with him too. He's also very chilled out. I think in a footballing sense you saw what he's capable of from his time at Hoffenheim. As footballers, we see how he wants to play football. He likes the tactical aspect of our game, such as the constant press and our playing style. That's an advantage, of course. He doesn't want us to forget that, rather he wants to add his skills to it. That's suited us very well and I think his footballing ideas fit in well. He's very good for our young team and playing style."
bundesliga.com: Did you have a different pre-season this year to in previous years?
Werner: "We did a lot more football-related things in this year's training camp than before. It used to be a training session on the pitch, then one in the weights room. In this year’s pre-season, it was two sessions on the pitch, which was, of course, a difference. Other things were then demanded of us with regards to our fitness. Then, of course, we worked a lot on tactics. We practised his ideas in training for weeks, so we could be up to speed for games like we are now."
bundesliga.com: Is your speed something that you think about while you're playing, or look to take advantage of in the way you and the team plays?
Werner: "I think if I didn't do anything then I wouldn't be the brightest. We often practice speed and quick build-up play. I think speed suits us well, not only me but other players we have, for example, Christopher Nkunku, Yussuf Poulsen or Patrik Schick up front. They're all extremely fast, and then we have passers like Marcel Sabitzer and Emil Forsberg who can always thread through a good ball. That benefits me immensely, of course, using the speed I have to first make sure my teammates get the ball to me, before I then make the most of the chance."
bundesliga.com: Do you work on your speed in training?
Werner: "I don't really want to say. I don't - you're either quick or you're not. It's innate, so you've got to accept it. Of course, you can always get a bit better, and of course, it does depend on the day and how you feel - whether you feel fitter or when you're legs don't feel so bad then you naturally run a bit quicker, because your legs feel lighter. All in all, though, you can't train for it."
bundesliga.com: What people might not realise is that you're not just a goalscorer, you even have five assists this season - the third-highest amount of any player in the Bundesliga so far in 2019/20...
Werner: "I think that assists are one of my strengths. You're always defined as a striker by how many goals you score, but now I play a new position under the new coach. I'm playing almost as an attacking midfielder, which means I've got to play like the others do, like Forsberg, Sabitzer, 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. It's worked really well in the first games of the season."
bundesliga.com: You've produced more goals and assists combined than any other player in the Bundesliga this season. What does that mean to you?
Werner: "It's the reward for hard work, but it's got to keep on coming. As RB Leipzig, we can't just say that we're a point behind first but if we win next weekend then we'll be first and the title is ours. The season ends on the 34th Matchday. Until then, I've got to keep on scoring and assisting, and the others need to do that too. It also depends on us defending well as a team and trying to get as much out of games as possible. You're never done, and therefore we always want to give more and keep giving it 100 per cent for however long the season lasts."
bundesliga.com: You recently became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 200 appearances in the league. That incredible achievement must mean a lot to you?
Werner: "To have so many Bundesliga games under my belt at such a young age is of course something special. When you get to 23, you realise just how long you've played in the Bundesliga. I think it's my seventh season now. When I think about it, it's been a nice experience, even though it's gone so quickly. At 23, I've still got a few years ahead of me of course, but you notice how quickly time flies. We're now playing in the Champions League and were in the Europa League last year. The time goes so quickly from game to game, and the days fly by in between, as you're either exhausted from one game or focused on the next one. It's fun on the one hand but a shame on the other hand, as time is going by so quickly. Nevertheless, I'm proud to have played so many games at such a young age. Hopefully there's more to come."
bundesliga.com: You scored 75 goals in your first 200 games in the German top flight. Do you have a favourite?
Werner: "I think you always think of an important goal you've scored. It wasn't the nicest one, perhaps, but the one that stays in my mind was against Hamburg, and it wasn't bad. Kevin Kampl smashed the ball down the pitch to assist me as I ran in from behind. At the moment, my first Champions League goal or first goal for the national team are stuck in my head."
bundesliga.com: Leipzig were finishing their first season as a club at the start of the decade. Were you aware of the club back then?
Werner: "You knew that there was a team that had come, that wanted to grow and get into the Bundesliga with a bang. They had a plan in mind and wanted to follow it logically. That's now worked out. I never thought I'd be a part of it. That happened quickly in such a short time. We'd all never imagined it, but we're happy about it because we've learned more and more every year. Learning means understanding more. It's not something to take for granted and it's not easy. We've had to learn over the last two or three years that we can't do it by ourselves. We had a period where things went well and then another where we drifted a bit - we had it this year too. We've therefore got to always play at our limit. We're not Barcelona, Bayern Munich or other top clubs who can win while playing at 50 per cent. We're a team that has got to give it our all, and that of course takes a lot out of us, but it's very enjoyable."
Watch: Werner's incredible goal vs. Hamburg as part of his Bundesliga Mixtape (at 00:32)!
bundesliga.com: Is that the same case when it comes to fighting for a Bundesliga title, that you have to give it your all in every game?
Werner: "Definitely. I think you know you've got to give 100 per cent every time, regardless of whether you're beating Paderborn or Union Berlin, playing Bayern or Borussia Dortmund. If you win a game, then of course it's related to your mentality. Nevertheless, it's fun, because we know if we give 100 per cent, then we win games. That can keep on happening."
bundesliga.com: Why do you think so many teams are fighting at the top of the table in 2019/20?
Werner: "The first reason is that Bayern and Dortmund have weakened slightly, the former more than the latter. However, it's not dependent on those two teams. If they don't play as they did in the past, when they won all their games, then it becomes interesting for teams like Borussia Mönchengladbach or us just behind them. There are also other teams like Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen, who have been very strong this season. It might be that the Bundesliga is more equal. The teams above might have weakened, but maybe the others have improved and perform better against the better teams. You saw that against Paderborn when we led 3-0 but almost let them back to make it 3-3. I think a lot of teams aren't sitting back and waiting to concede or waiting to score anymore. The Bundesliga has become more courageous, and more teams are playing distinctively more attacking football. Fans now see 4-3 instead of a 1-0, which is a lot better. Of course, a lot of coaches don't like that, but it makes it very enjoyable for the players. I feel that's what should be targeted to make up for what was perhaps missing in recent years."
bundesliga.com: It's clear that RB Leipzig are fighting for the title, but do you think that mentioning it as a goal puts pressure on yourselves?
Werner: "That's a good question. Saying we want to be champions puts considerable pressure on us and the people around us. We never want to say we will be German champions, rather that we'll try to become German champions. I think the way the table is and the way the league has changed in the last couple of matchdays makes it foreseeable for the top clubs who we're competing against. Everyone has a chance. We want to keep our chances alive for as long as possible by winning. We still have a lot of games to go until the winter break. If we could win them all, including the Dortmund game, then we'd be really well-placed. We want to be in control to be in the best possible starting position for the second half of the season. Then we'll see what happens in the end."
bundesliga.com: Is it a dream of yours to win the Bundesliga?
Werner: "I don't think there's anything better in Germany than becoming German champions. That's the final stage. That might not be the case for clubs like Dortmund or Bayern, but for another club, it's something special, as you've proven you've beaten the two best clubs in Germany and done that for a whole year. Of course, it's a dream in Germany to become German champions."
bundesliga.com: Looking back, how was your first season in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig?
Werner: "It was very cool for a lot of the team back then. The promotions to Bundesliga 2 and Bundesliga for the first time meant a lot, not only to the city and fans, but also to the players. I had previous Bundesliga experience, but then I came here – new surroundings, a new city, a new team. Despite that, all three of these things made it very easy for me here and made it relatively easy for me to settle in. I therefore got into full swing, as everyone welcomed me and wanted me here. I was therefore really happy to come here, and it was the right decision in the end."
bundesliga.com: Being a part of a young, fun and vibrant squad must have been part of the reason behind you extending your contract with the club in the summer. Were there others?
Werner: "I saw the growth that would happen here this year and next year because we'd grown well over the last few years. We have a new, ambitious coach, who I had spoken to before the season started. It was discussed and shown to me how much they wanted me, and it was clear. I could either extend my deal or just be sold in the summer, as they didn't want me to leave on a free. It was clear to all parties that I was going to extend and carry on really making the most of my time here."
Werner: "The draw is very difficult for us, of course. It could've been a lot easier, as the coach quite rightly said. It'll be tough to lead or finish first in the group. We've got to take it as it comes. I think we're nevertheless strong enough to be able to beat all three teams. It would be wrong to start whining on about it before we've even started. We should look forward to playing three really good teams right at the very start of the competition. It could even be easier than playing teams that play deep and wait to counter. I think it's always hard to predict in the national team. It always changes so quickly, as it's dependent on results in the league. That's the main reason for giving 100 per cent there. At the end of the day, whether you've played a lot or not, you're still at a tournament. So I'm really excited for the Euros."