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Werner’s goal drought: Could a skiing holiday prove key to unlocking ‘sensitive’ Chelsea striker?



The struggling Blues striker now has a friend in the dressing room at Cobham Training Centre who can coax him out of his depressing barren spell

Timo Werner is stuck in a rut but Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel can share the responsibility of dragging him out of it with one of his new assistants.

Arno Michels and Zsolt Low joined Tuchel at Stamford Bridge last week and few people in world football know Werner better than the latter coach.

Werner’s goal drought is certainly a significant issue at Chelsea. Indeed, it played an important role in Frank Lampard’s dismissal as manager.

However, after an encouraging start to his Blues career, the goals quickly dried up.

The 24-year-old has now failed to score in his past 12 Premier League games, and has only netted against League Two Morecambe in his past 18 appearances for club and country.

His frustration has become increasingly evident in recent weeks. As Tuchel put it, Werner has lost his smile in England.

“He gives everything, as you can see,” the Chelsea manager said after last weekend’s 2-0 win over Burnley. “Like every striker in the world, these guys are sensitive and nothing helps better than goals. I

“If they miss the goals for a certain amount of time, it is not the same for them.”

Tuchel is, thus, hoping that the presence of Low can prove decisive in ending Werner’s goal drought.

The former Paris Saint-Germain coach had to fight hard to prise Low away from Red Bull, as the former Hungary international had played a key role in the energy drink’s burgeoning football empire.

He had first tried to hire Low during his time in charge of Borussia Dortmund but the 41-year-old politely declined the offer out of loyalty to Ralf Rangnick.

However, when Tuchel came calling again after landing the PSG job, Low agreed to move to the Parc des Princes.

That was wholly unsurprising. While Low has the utmost respect for Ragnick, the mastermind behind Red Bull’s football project, he actually played under Tuchel at Mainz before taking a joy as a youth team coach at Red Bull Salzburg and then later becoming an assistant at sister club RB Leipzig.

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The pair, like Leipzig’s current boss Julian Nagelsman, Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl and Salzburg’s Jesse Marsch, have a shared faith in Rangnick’s counter-pressing philosophy.

Werner is well versed in that ideology, too, and should certainly end up benefiting from the tactical changes already in full swing at Stamford Bridge.

However, Low’s friendship with Werner could arguably prove even more significant.

“I can proudly say that it was a great experience to work with him and monitor his development, ” Low told Nemzeti Sport last year while still working at PSG. “In his first season, he has already signalled with his goals that it is worth planning with him in the long run.

“I met a humble, a little bit of a shy guy who consciously built himself up. He is a good example of the latter because he was among the first to stop consuming his much-loved gum, chips and soft drinks when the coaching staff, in keeping with the club’s philosophy, asked him to lead a healthier lifestyle.

“After I had become an assistant coach at PSG, we also happened to spend a holiday together in Switzerland. I could also experience how intelligent and sensitive a person he was while skiing.

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“To this day, we keep exchanging messages after the major matches, and I look at him as my friend.”

Tuchel, meanwhile, is planning to add to Werner’s weapons, given his goal threat has been nullified by teams playing in a low-block.

Of course, Chelsea have lost their way in a general attacking sense, with Tuchel’s side still lacking fluidity despite tightening up at the back after Lampard’s dismal run of results.

However, in Werner, Chelsea have a forward that many still believe capable of taking the Premier League by storm.

“I think that Chelsea for a relatively cheap price have picked up a world-class player,” former Leipzig assistant coach Marsch told Goal earlier in the season. “I am really excited for Timo because a lot of Germans don’t leave.

“I am really excited that Timo is moving outside of his comfort zone to challenge himself at a different level and I think that he will be rewarded for it in his career.”

It’s certainly been an uncomfortable experience for Werner so far but now that he has a familiar face working alongside him in Low, he might soon start feeling a little more at home in England.


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