Timo Werner’s rise to prominence has been rapid. Relegated with VfB Stuttgart in May 2016, the forward bounced back in some style last term, helping RB Leipzig finish second before winning the Confederations Cup with Germany this summer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 21-year-old now can't wait to test himself in the Champions League.
It's been a spectacular year for Werner, who helped Leipzig finish as runners-up in the Bundesliga by scoring 21 goals and creating eight more in 31 league matches last term.
The Stuttgart native weighed in with almost a third of his team’s tally as they sealed a place in the group stage of next season’s Champions League. Along the way, he became only the fifth player in Bundesliga history under the age of 22 to score at least 19 goals in a season.
Watch: Werner's Top 5 goals!
He was the leading German scorer in the top flight – and fourth overall behind Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and recently-departed Cologne striker Anthony Modeste.
Aubameyang led the scoring charts with 31 strikes and Lewandowski was just one behind. Werner doesn't think he's at their level just yet, and doesn't plan to put too much pressure on himself this season.
“I don’t want to be compared with them yet – they’re world class,” he says. “It’s impressive how they score their goals. It was nice to be within sniffing distance of them."
“Of course my aim has to be to do something similar again. But I’m not going into the new season with a commitment to myself that I have to score 20 goals again.”
Watch: Werner: "Aubameyang and Lewandowski my targets!"
Werner’s reputation was enhanced further at the Confederations Cup in Russia, where he set up Germany’s winning goal for Lars Stindl in the final against Chile at the Krestovsky Arena in Saint Petersburg in July.
He took home the Golden Boot too – having needed fewer minutes on the pitch than teammates Stindl and Leon Goretzka to score three goals in the tournament.
The pacy forward could have been part of Germany Under-21s’ title-winning European Championship team instead but, he now admits that he is dreaming about travelling with the senior squad to next summer’s World Cup.
To do that, Werner needs to back up his stellar maiden campaign with Leipzig. However, the youngest player to reach 100 Bundesliga appearances is not taking continued success for granted.
The promoted club won 20 of their 34 league matches last season to finish three points ahead of Dortmund in second place and 15 behind champions Bayern.
“This season we maybe won’t be the number one challenger anymore,” he said. “Maybe it will be Dortmund or someone new. Dortmund have signed very good new players, though so have we."
“It’s hard to say where our path will lead us because this is the first season where we’ll be playing a lot of midweek matches.”
Quiz: How well do you know RB Leipzig?
Werner will be watching out for the Champions League group stage draw on 24 August, although he's unsure about whether he should hope for a kinder schedule on paper or to relish the challenge of facing some of the biggest names in the competition.
“On the one hand, we’re all sportspeople and we want to go further,” he said. “In that case you’re hoping not to get the best opponents."
“But on the other hand, we’re playing in the Champions League for the first time so it wouldn’t be amiss if we could play in the Bernabeu, the Camp Nou or in Old Trafford.
“They would be trips that you would not forget in your lifetime.”