22 February 2020, North Rhine-Westphalia, Gelsenkirchen: Football: Bundesliga, FC Schalke 04 - RB Leipzig, 23rd matchday in the Veltins Arena: Timo Werner of Leipzig shows his raised thumb. Photo: Bernd Thissen/dpa - IMPORTANT NOTE: In accordance with the regulations of the DFL Deutsche Fu?ball Liga and the DFB Deutscher Fu?ball-Bund, it is prohibited to exploit or have exploited in the stadium and/or from the game taken photographs in the form of sequence images and/or video-like photo series.

German paper claims Liverpool could loan Timo Werner back to RB Leipzig

Liverpool’s pursuit of RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner has been given a new angle, with the dubious suggestion that the German could be signed then loaned back.

Werner has continued his flirtation with the Reds in recent weeks, and over the weekend told Sky Germany that he has “the potential to play for a big team.”

Previously, he has expressed his pride at links with Jurgen Klopp‘s side, and outlined his belief that he would be a “good fit” for the manager’s system.

The 24-year-old is believed to be holding out for a move to Merseyside, despite interest from the likes of Barcelona and Man United, and on paper would be the ideal signing this summer.

But according to Bild, the Reds could delay adding Werner to their squad, with the German newspaper claiming it is “conceivable” he could instead return to Leipzig on loan for 2020/21.

It would be a similar deal to that struck with Leipzig in 2017, which saw Naby Keita stay with the Bundesliga side for the 2017/18 campaign before moving to Liverpool for £52.75 million the following summer.

However, there is one big difference in that Werner has a well-publicised release clause in his contract with Leipzig, which would allow him to be signed for around £50.5 million.

Whether or not this expires at the end of April, as speculated, there would be no obligation for Liverpool to agree a loan-back switch for a player who could severe his ties with Leipzig for a relative bargain price in the summer.

Timo Werner (PA Images)

The only scenario that would make this likely is if were Leipzig to leverage Werner’s desire to join the Reds and negotiate a deal worth below his release clause for 2021.

This would surely still be contingent on Liverpool bringing in another attacker on an immediate basis this summer, with both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane expected to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations midway through 2020/21.

The strain on Klopp’s established front three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino has been evident in recent weeks, with Xherdan Shaqiri injured and Takumi Minamino not currently entrusted with a high-profile starting role.

Shaqiri is set to leave the club at the end of the season, while there are question marks over Divock Origi‘s long-term suitability.

Klopp could, of course, turn to the likes of Rhian Brewster, Harry Wilson and Paul Glatzel as cover in attack, but to do so with Werner effectively on the books but playing elsewhere would be a head-scratcher.