Chelsea need Timo Werner to step up in Romelu Lukaku’s absence

Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku embrace after helping Chelsea defeat Southampton 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Oct. 2, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Last season, Chelsea were able to win in spite of Timo Werner’s poor form for most of the campaign. Thomas Tuchel is an excellent coach and one who deserves praise for the job he continues to do with the club. While PSG were likely foolish to let him walk, it has seemed to work out for them as well with old Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino guiding the Parisians.

Signing Big Romelu Lukaku this summer was meant to take some pressure off of Werner, to let him grow further into his role as a Chelsea striker and to get serious production out of at least one of them, if not both. No one can say that Big Rom has not done his part, but the injury midweek during their Champions League group stage match against Swedish side Malmo has changed things for Chelsea, Tuchel, and both Lukaku and Werner.

It will now be Timo Werner up front and while Chelsea’s midfield and wingers remain full of class and imagination, they will need their No. 9 to perform like he did when he was still in the Bundesliga. Should he be able to do this, Big Rom will return to a Chelsea side that will have improved during his absence, which surely is not easy to do for such a talented outfit. Should Werner struggle, there will be an added urgency for the return of the former Inter Milan striker.

Werner must step up for Chelsea

Lukaku has always been, by his own admission, like Shaquille O’Neal as a player — the stories of him dragging young players as a pre-teen and teenager are quite something. He is an imposing figure and it seems as though it was only a lack of confidence or maturity that has previously hindered him at stops like Chelsea and Manchester United. Since finding Antonio Conte at Inter, the Belgian has looked like a player possessed.

That is precisely why the Champions League holders decided to acquire him in the first place. After winning the whole thing against  Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City side, Roman Abramovich was ready to actually keep a manager while also splashing the cash in the transfer market. With Erling Haaland unavailable, they settled for an old face in Lukaku instead.

He was brought in to work alongside Werner, who joined Chelsea the previous summer window. While his time with RB Leipzig was full of production and goals, Werner’s time in England has not been as wonderful. This is not to say he can’t turn it around. He wouldn’t be the first player to need time to adapt to the Premier League.

There is great parity, probably more than in most any other European league, and there is great toughness and physicality as well. For someone as towering and intimidating as Lukaku can be when he’s bearing down on a defense, it was only a matter of time for him to get comfortable in his new surroundings and teammates. For Werner on the other hand, it was always going to be a matter of getting comfortable in a new league.

As of now, he has yet to fully find himself with Chelsea, but he has the advantage of having a German boss and being on a team who can pick up the slack while he continues to try to sort things out.

However, now it is his time to shoulder the load for Chelsea. Considering how patient the club has been, it is past time Werner demonstrate the club made a sound investment when signing him.