Timo Werner may not have set the world alight during his first season at Chelsea, but he’s the player Pep Guardiola should be worried about ahead of the Champions League final against Man City.
In fact, talkSPORT pundits claim the City boss might have to change his team around to keep the German speedster at bay in Porto.
City are favourites ahead of Saturday’s all-English season finale, with a possible treble within their reach after Premier League and Carabao Cup successes this term.
Chelsea had looked a genuine danger for City with the Blues enjoying an impressive resurgence under Thomas Tuchel, only for the German’s team to lose its sting in the final weeks of the campaign as they lost the FA Cup final and three of their last four league games of the campaign.
Many have written off the London club ahead of the battle for European glory in Portugal, but former City manager Stuart Pearce has warned his former club there is every reason to be wary of Tuchel’s side.
And there’s one man in particular the pundits agree could pose the most danger to City’s long quest to be European champions.
“I think Timo Werner will be key tonight,” Pearce told the Weekend Sports Breakfast.
It hasn’t been a vintage first year as a Chelsea player for Werner.
The player himself has admitted he has experienced the ‘most unlucky’ season of his entire career, with the striker netting 12 goals but the stats [expected goals] showing he should have had 20, at least.
Fans, and no doubt his manager, have been frustrated with his apparent inability to stay onside, but there’s no doubt about the all-round threat he brings to the Blues’ attack.
While his goal output may be below par, his tally of 15 assists is above average for a centre-forward, and the German has been hailed for his character, to keep his chin up and keep trying for his team despite his personal disappointment.
“I’m a big fan of Werner’s,” said former Arsenal winger Perry Groves.
“He’s in single figures for Premier League goals [six] but when he’s in the team other players play better because of him.
“I think you judge players when it isn’t going very well for them, their character, and he never hides. He still tries to get in the right positions.”
“Oh, he doesn’t stop running,” added Sports bar host and former Chelsea defender Jason Cundy.
“You cannot fault him for effort, he’s A+ for effort.”
Pearce explained how Werner – despite his doubters – can harm City, with Groves saying he’ll be such a nuisance that Guardiola may be forced into rethinking his back line.
“He’s better suited on the counter attack because of his pace to go in behind,” said Pearce.
“When you’re at Chelsea there are a lot of teams in the Premier League that won’t allow you that space in behind, but I’ll tell you one team that probably might – Manchester City.
“City come onto you, they will attack and bring the game to you, so it might be a game where Chelsea are going to need that outlet if he starts and he runs in behind.
“In the game at Wembley [Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final win over City – one of Tuchel’s two wins over Guardiola this season] his threat was a massive weapon for Chelsea.”
“I think Pep will be worried about Werner’s pace,” said Groves.
“I think he might play Kyle Walker as one of the three centre-halves because of Werner’s pace – He’s always looking to get in behind, he stretches the opposition.
“He’ll be a danger for Man City.”
Any Tony Cascarino believes he has the opportunity to relaunch his Chelsea career and become and instant hero with a goal against City.
“Timo Werner has not even been mentioned by anybody,” said the ex-Chelsea striker.
“He has had a bit of an indifferent season, he hasn’t scored the number of goals expected of him.
“Can he make a name for himself in this final? Imagine that. From the guy who hasn’t really been talked about, he has an opportunity to really relaunch his Chelsea career.”
The Champions League final is LIVE on talkSPORT on Saturday, May 29, kick-off 8pm
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