Who will score the goals for Germany in the absence of Timo Werner at the 2022 World Cup? - © DFL
Who will score the goals for Germany in the absence of Timo Werner at the 2022 World Cup? - © /

Who will replace injured Germany forward Timo Werner at the 2022 World Cup?


The smart money was on Timo Werner leading the line for Germany at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but an ankle ligament injury means the RB Leizig forward will not be involved at the finals.

With Germany's Group E opener against Japan just days away, bundesliga.com weighs up the options at Hansi Flick's disposal...

Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)

Gnabry frequently led the line for Germany during the latter part of Joachim Löw's reign, despite being largely used as an attacking wide player at club level.

The 27-year-old Bayern winger has an even better goals-per-game ratio than Werner, with a jaw-dropping 20 international goals from just 36 appearances. He netted almost half of them during a breathtaking 2019, mainly in qualifying for UEFA Euro 2020. In an ironic twist, he played a key role in taking Germany to the tournament but then failed to score once he got there, despite starting all three group games against France, Portugal and Hungary at centre-forward.

Since Flick took over, Gnabry has been restored to the right flank, but that hasn't stopped him adding another four goals to his tally.

"Are you not entertained?" Serge Gnabry has been one of the most consistent performers for club and country in recent seasons. - IMAGO/IMAGO/MIS

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann has used Gnabry in a variety of positions this term, on both flanks and up front, and it won't have escaped Flick that one of his most accomplished performance came alongside Sadio Mane at the tip of a 4-4-2, when he scored one and set up another for the Senegalese star in a 6-1 demolition of Frankfurt.

Kai Havertz (Chelsea)

Havertz has also shown his prowess as a striker, to the extent that his former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel felt it was inaccurate to refer to him as a 'False 9': "He's very strong in behind the last line of defence, and when he plays at centre-forward that's what we want from him."

The 23-year-old first demonstrated his abilities as a No.9 with Bayer Leverkusen at the tail end of 2019/20. When strikers Kevin Volland and Lucas Alario both got injured, he shifted up from midfield into a centre-forward role, ending the campaign with 12 Bundesliga goals. Fast forward to 2021/22 and he was predominantly deployed as Chelsea's main striker, grabbing twice as many Premier League goals as Werner.

Watch: All Kai Havertz's Bundesliga goals and assists in 2019/20

In the rare instances Werner has been absent from the Germany setup in recent months, Havertz is the man Flick has chosen to lead the line. He scored from that position in last November's 4-1 win over Armenia, and started there again as Germany came close to defeating England in June, finally settling for a 1-1 draw after a late Harry Kane penalty. He then started and bagged a brace in the return 3-3 draw at Wembley.

Havertz hasn't been in the best of form so far this season - the Aachen native has three Premier League goals in 13 outings - but on his day remains one of the deadliest frontmen in the game.

Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich)

And how about Müller, the highest-scoring active player at the World Cup with 10 goals? The Bayern legend's position has been a source of rich debate for many years, and though he has tended to thrive just off the shoulder of the main striker – for both club and country – he too has occasionally been handed the keys to Germany's attack.

When Löw and his men conquered the world in 2014, Müller started the first four games at centre-forward in a 4-3-3, kicking things off in style with a hat-trick against Portugal and grabbing a crucial winner against the USA. He shifted out to the right as the tournament progressed, but still played a central role in Germany lifting the World Cup for the fourth time.

Thomas Müller (pictured) won the 2014 World Cup when Flick was Joachim Löw's assistant coach. - Imago

Niclas Füllkrug (Werder Bremen)

A target man with predatory instincts in front of goal, Füllkrug offers Flick a slightly different profile as a more classic centre-forward in the Mario Gomez mould. He powered Werder Bremen's successful promotion bid with 19 goals in Bundesliga 2 last term and has picked up where he left off in the Bundesliga, netting 10 times in the first 15 games to go second in the scoring charts.

Füllkrug's reward was a maiden call-up ahead of the World Cup, and he marked the occasion by hitting a debut winner from the bench in a warm-up game against Oman. The 29-year-old also had a goal ruled out for offside.

"Niclas deserved the goal," commented Flick afterwards. "He had two or three other shots. You could sense his presence up front as soon as he was on the pitch."

With 38 goals in 112 Bundesliga games and a further 47 from 135 Bundesliga 2 games, Füllkrug has managed to find the back of the net in a third of his games in Germany's top two divisions, proving a reliable source of goals down the years for Nuremberg, Hannover and Bremen.

A competent penalty taker with great aerial prowess, he has scored a few fantastic headed goals this term, against VfB Stuttgart, Bochum and Hertha Berlin. He is also more than just a poacher, with his strike from outside the area against Wolfsburg showing he's not afraid to try his luck from distance. He has also dovetailed brilliantly with fellow forward Marvin Ducksch, who contributed 20 goals as Bremen finished second in Bundesliga 2 last season and returned to the elite.

"'Fülle' can be important for the national team, just like he is for us," said Bremen defender Niklas Stark. "There are outstanding technical players [ahead of him], but if you want to play with a classic nine, I don't think there's anyone better."

Youssoufa Moukoko (Borussia Dortmund)

Record-breaking teenager Moukoko was the man to make way for Füllkrug in Muscat. The woodwork had denied the sprightly 17-year-old a goal on the day he became his country's greenest debutant since the late, great Uwe Seeler in 1954. Further milestones are expected at the finals, for a player who is enjoying an astronomical rise in the world game.

Watch: All Youssoufa Moukoko's Bundesliga goals and assists in 2022/23

Already the Bundesliga's youngest player and scorer at 16, Moukoko's six goals and four assists across 14 Bundesliga appearances this season - his second full campaign in the Germany top flight - have seen him rewrite the history books as the Bundesliga's greenest to hit a brace and reach double figures for goals. He turns 18 on 20 November.

Form-wise, he's right up there with Füllkrug. As a player, the pair - aside from their nose for goal - are poles apart. While the Bremen talisman is very much a No.9, the 5'10" Moukoko is modern roamer, who uses his low centre of gravity, sharp control and impressive game awareness to make and take chances with his favoured left foot.

"Youssoufa is quite simply developing really well," Flick explained after naming Moukoko in his 26-man squad. "He's quick, lively and a good finisher."

Karim Adeyemi (Borussia Dortmund)

Moukoko's clubmate Adeyemi made his international bow against Armenia in September 2021 at the age of just 19. Even better, he opened his account after combining beautifully with fellow youngster Florian Wirtz and slamming home at the near post to round out a 6-0 win in World Cup qualifying.

Adeyemi was one of Dortmund's big summer signings from Red Bull Salzburg, where he scored 23 goals in all competitions during a breakout 2021/22. As well as landing a third straight league and cup double with his club, he finished as the Austrian Bundesliga's joint-top scorer and impressed on the European scene. He particularly caught the eye in Salzburg's 3-1 UEFA Champions League win over Wolfsburg, in which he and Nmecha both got on the scoresheet.

The highly rated 20-year-old didn't make the ideal start to life with BVB, suffering an unfortunate foot injury just 23 minutes into his Bundesliga debut against Bayer Leverkusen, but found his feet heading into October making a a string of starts on the right-hand side of the attack, and opening his account against Sevilla in the Champions League groups.

"His speed and goalscoring ability are impressive," enthused Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl. "Even if Karim is already at a very advanced stage in his development as a footballer and athlete, we still see enormous potential for more."

Flick clearly shares that view, having handed Adeyemi four caps, although he has warned the young striker that he will have to work hard to earn himself a regular place in the squad. "Karim still has to develop further," the former Bayern boss said in June. "At the moment, Lukas Nmecha is a bit ahead of him, and very committed in training. Karim has to take the next step at Dortmund."

In short, Flick has a wealth of possibilities as he looks to find the right formula in attack. Whether it's a Bayern blitz led by Gnabry and Müller, a fresh look with the in-form Füllkrug and Moukoko, or a potent mix of old and new faces - expect goals. Lots of goals.