Liverpool’s lengthy pursuit of RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner has taken a big blow, with Chelsea now widely reported to be front-runners for a £53 million deal.
The Reds had been expected to eventually seal the signing of Werner in the next transfer window, despite a cautious approach to the market at this stage.
Werner’s public praise for Jurgen Klopp‘s side and the strong relationship between the two clubs indicated that an agreement could be struck, with the 24-year-old a perfect addition to the attacking ranks.
But a number of Chelsea journalists have reported on Thursday evening, corroborating a claim from Bild, that Werner has now agreed on personal terms with the London club.
The Telegraph, the Mirror and the Mail are among those to cover the story, with Chelsea said to be ready to pay Werner’s release clause, which is in the region of £53 million.
He could earn £200,000 a week at Stamford Bridge, which is likely to be significantly higher than the wages on offer at Liverpool.
There appears to be an acceptance on Merseyside that Werner could join Chelsea, too, with the Evening Standard‘s David Lynch taking to Twitter on the news breaking:
#LFC have been adamant for some time that they won’t be signing Timo Werner. Sometimes, these denials have to be taken with a pinch of salt – but apparently not in this case!
— David Lynch (@LynchStandard) June 4, 2020
If Liverpool have pulled out of the race to sign Werner, they will no doubt be a good reason, but it represents a big setback for the club from an outside perspective.
Werner has scored 31 goals and laid on 12 assists in 40 games for Leipzig this season, and his flexibility would make him an ideal alternative for any of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino.
There is still the possibility that these reports are designed to coax an offer from the Reds, of course—if they have come from the player’s representatives, or Leipzig themselves.
But the emergence of the claims on such a volume of outlets suggests there is truth to them, and it could be that we see Werner in the Premier League next season, only not in a Liverpool shirt.