Timo Werner is highly likely to leave RB Leipzig this summer transfer period. FC Bayern Munich already showed interest in the German international player last summer. However, where Werner will play in the coming season is still open.
Nevertheless, he has given FC Bayern a public refusal. Bayern is “a great club” and Hansi Flick is “a really good head coach”. But, if a move should become an issue at some point, I would rather take a step abroad than a move to Bayern. It is just that the challenge in another league would appeal to me a little more than a move within the Bundesliga. And, of course, it also plays a role that the mutual appreciation should be there to the maximum. That is why I chose RB Leipzig some time ago, and because of that, I would choose the club where I would get this feeling again”, said Werner.
In addition to Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC, in particular, woos Werner’s services – something the 24-year-old had always felt flattered about. However, due to the Covid-19 crisis, it remains unclear whether a club is willing to even use the low exit clause, which is now between 50 and 60 million euros.
Nevertheless, RB Leipzig will have to take a look at the transfer market to sign a possible replacement for Werner who is the most important player in their first-team squad. Therefore, the player who will be dedicated to following in Werner´s footsteps needs to be on an exceedingly high level already.
In this tactical analysis, we will be looking at a player who has a similar stylistic and statistical profile to Werner. A player who could replace Werner at RB Leipzig or even be a good option for a few Premier League sides. So, the player to be analysed in this particular scout report is Werder Bremen’s Milot Rashica.
Role in the system at Bremen
Rashica is 23 years old and will turn 24 at the end of June. He made his debut for Kosovo club OF Vushteria aged 16. He then signed for Dutch Club Vitesse FC in 2015 and went on to make 100 appearances for the club before he was poached by Werder Bremen in 2018.
Kosovan´s best role in the Bremen side is playing as a left-winger in the 4-3-3 formation. When he plays on the left, he never stays as a wide player, he drifts into the middle to create an overload or switches flanks with the right-winger which helps to cause confusion to the opposition’s defence.
If Florian Kohfeldt changes his tactics into a 4-3-1-2 formation, Rashica´s role will change into the forward position.
Nevertheless, Rashica can play on either side and is able to play as a central offensive midfielder in the 4-3-1-2 formation as well. Definitely, Rashica is a versatile player who is capable of playing anywhere along the front line as an offensive allrounder.
Rashica loves to go into dribbling and 1-vs.-1 situations. His dribbling is useful for progressing the ball from the middle third to the final third or moving the ball into the box. And this can be seen as he has completed 2.2 dribbles per 90 minutes in the current Bundesliga season. This is around the same as Germany´s Gnabry who has recorded 2.3 and even more than Brazilian´s superstar Coutinho who has recorded 2.1 per 90 minutes.
To get past the opponent´s defenders Rashica´s biggest weapon besides his technical ability is his extraordinarily high speed. With centre-backs not as pacy as full-backs it makes defenders unable to handle Rashica. That is why more than 68% of his dribbles are successful. A quite good rate!
Rashica’s shooting ability from both wider positions without and within the box can be seen when we look at his shot map over the current season. And, this suggests that he can play the role of a wide forward or inside forward very well.
As in these rows, he would be tasked with making runs in behind the backline and looking to get shots away from these types of positions. So, the fact that he scores a high proportion of his goals from these areas suggests that he would be well suited to playing these roles.
The following image shows Rashica starting a run in behind the defence of Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal. The pass is played in the perfect moment and Rashica can use his high speed to get away from Mats Hummels.
That is why Rashica only has to beat the goalkeeper. Therefore, he takes advantage of his shooting ability in a wide position on the right side within the opposition´s box. With his strong right foot, he smashes the ball into the bottom-left corner.
Same procedure against VFL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga: Rashica starts a run in behind the opposition´s defensive line and receives the ball. Because of his speed, Rashica cannot be caught up
Now, in a wide position in the penalty box again, but on the left side, he uses his weaker left foot to score the goal. His shot into the lower right corner is precisely and unstoppable.
So, his movement is often the same, but because of his ability to shoot particularly well with both feet, it is still difficult to predict his next move.
Another factor for Rashica´s unpredictable playing style is, that his long-range shooting ability is exceptionally good as well. That is why he can easily shoot a goal from a very wide position approximately 20-30 meters in front of the opposition’s goal.
In the following examples, Rashica is taking advantage of his long-range shooting ability and beats the goalkeepers to score another goal. In the first example, he beats Neuer in the Bundesliga match against Bayern.
In the second example, he scores a goal against Hannover 96 in pre-season from an even longer distance.
His overall finishing ability is very impressive as seen as he has overperformed his expected goals rate by more than 3 goals in the past two seasons. The statistics show that he is finishing more chances than he would statistically be expected to. Therefore, he scored 12 goals in the 2018/19 season. This season, he already scored 7 goals in the Bundesliga and 3 more goals in the DFB-Pokal.
But, he is not just a finisher though he creates lots of assists as well. The following image provides a good example of Rashica´s overview and intelligence. He is surrounded by two defenders of Mainz 05. Nevertheless, he still has the composure to play an interface pass to a free-standing teammate. In this way, Rashica is able to assist another goal.
In the next image, Rashica is in one of his favourite wide areas within the box and has the opportunity to score a for him so typically a goal. Nevertheless, he still has the overview and is able to pass the ball to a better-positioned teammate who just needs to shoot into the empty goal.
Rashica has an expected assist rate of 0.12 per 90 minutes and creates 1.8 key passes per 90 minutes which are the same amount as Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman. All in all, Rashica contributed 11 assists during the past two seasons. In the bar graph below, you can see Rashica´s assists during the past two seasons compared to the stats of Common and Jadon Sancho.
Whilst these are not at Jadon Sancho´s level numbers, it has to be said that Rashica´s stats are very impressive once you consider that he is playing for Werder Bremen – currently based at the bottom of the Bundesliga table.
Compared to Werner
Last season, during the 2018/19 campaign, Rashica´s numbers were a lot better which you would expect as Werder Bremen for a much better side finishing in 8th place 8 in the Bundesliga. That season, Rashica had an expected assist rate of 0.24 per 90 minutes which was a higher rate than Werner´s one that season as he recorded 0.2 per 90 minutes. That just goes to show that in a better-quality side Rashica can produce high-level output.
Looking at both players´ stats models from the past two seasons we can see the similarities: Rashica does look to be the better creator of chances of the two edging Werner for expected assists and key passes. However, Werner does seem to be superior when it comes to getting into goal scoring positions and his xG is higher. Furthermore, he overperforms his xG to a higher rate than Rashica does. But, Rashica is still registering a similar amount of shots per 90 minutes.
Role in the system at Leipzig
With Werner looking almost certain to move on from RB Leipzig this summer, Rashica seems like the obvious replacement. Therefore, he could come in to play Werner´s role as a wide forward in Nagelsmann’s 4-4-2 (respectively 4-2-2-2) shape seamlessly with his statistical model and style of play being remarkably similar to Werner´s profile.
Nagelsmann and the responsible managers of RB Leipzig follow a very offensive philosophy. The ability to press high, to play powerful football and to have a lot of pace are the three most important factors an offensive player should have to get recruited by Leipzig. Rashica definitely has these attributes and has a lot of potential to get even better.
With Werner might be leaving now, there are still incredibly good forwards part of the first-team squad next season. But, Yussuf Poulsen and Patrik Schick, who is loaned from AS Roma, are not well-known for their pace. They were always seen as the counterpart of Werner as they are physically strong and can hold the ball to open space for Werner.
Furthermore, youth forward Fabrice Hartmann, who was bought from RB Salzburg last summer, is not ready to follow into Werner´s footsteps yet. Ademola Lookman, who has lots of potential and came from Everton ahead of the season, played not that many matches under Nagelsmann. If he played, he was used to playing as one of the central offensive midfielders in Leipzig´s 4-2-2-2 formation.
This analysis shows that Rashica and Werner are incredibly similar. They have a similar skillset and similar output statistically. Adding to that, the alternatives in the current Leipzig squad prefer a completely different playing style and can never be seen as a replacement for Werner in the current RB Leipzig philosophy.
That is why you can suggest that Rashica would be a great replacement for Werner in the Leipzig side being able to play that wide forward role very well. Adding to that, Rashica already knows the German Bundesliga and will need no long time to adapt himself. Furthermore, he could develop his movement and finishing ability to become as good a striker as Werner is already within a few seasons.
In the summer transfer window, Rashica could cost anywhere from 25 million to 30 million Euros to sign and even as low as 20 million Euro if Bremen where to get relegated. Even if he has similar statistics as Werner, Coutinho, Gnabry and Coman, Rashica would be half as expensive as anyone of them. This is making him not just a great option for Leipzig but also for a number of clubs in the English Premier League and across Europe.