Chelsea’s £47m skiing holiday has done little to salvage Thomas Tuchel’s tactical dead end


There was a period during Fernando Torres' ill- fated time at Stamford Bridge that all manner of tricks and solutions were brought to the table in order to rekindle his electric goalscoring spirit. Playing alongside Didier Drogba, being used as an impact sub and then bringing in the manager who captured his best form for Liverpool.

Torres' Chelsea career never radically changed for all of that hard work and perseverance. Albeit scoring that iconic runaway goal at the Camp Nou in April 2012 that will always be cherished. By the end of the 2013/14 season under Jose Mourinho, there was the harsh reality that the Torres project had fully run its course, and it was time to move on.

The same should apply to Timo Werner, who was bought for a similar price in June 2020 from RB Leipzig. The German forward does not look like a player lacking confidence, but one lacking the quality to provide the needed output. As you have gleaned from the headline of this piece which refers to a bizarre skiing holiday. It caught my attention when respected Chelsea reporter Nizaar Kinsella dug up a piece he wrote one year ago for Goal.

The piece detailed how Thomas Tuchel's assistant, Zsolt Low, had a previously positive relationship with Werner from his time at Leipzig, referencing an interview from Hungrarain publication Nemzeti Sport .

"I can proudly say that it was a great experience to work with him and monitor his development," Low said. "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. "To this day, we keep exchanging messages after the major matches, and I look at him as my friend."

The hope was that the friendship birthed on that skiing holiday could give Werner the encouragement to rediscover his best goalscoring form after Tuchel's arrival. Werner has only netted nine goals for Chelsea in 44 appearances in the year since. For all the chat about Tuchel being able to achieve where Frank Lampard had failed with Werner, the 25-year-old has done little to demonstrate he can repay anything close to the fee paid for him.

Now he sits on the fringes of the team. His last Premier League start coming before Christmas against Leeds on the 11th of December. Only one league strike coming on the 2nd of October means the forward is in danger of failing to match his league tally of six throughout the entirety of 2020/21.

We can point to a hamstring injury picked up in November and COVID which ruled him out for the festive period. But it would be disingenuous to suggest the doubts about Werner were not present before these setbacks. Like Torres, Werner has fallen into the trap of a player that has been offered a variety of different circumstances to succeed.

He's been moved from a wide-left role into a more inside ten behind a centre-forward. He's been tried in a forward pairing this season with Romelu Lukaku, both in a 3-5-2 and 4-2-2-2. But unlike other Chelsea attackers, Werner's technical limitations feel impossible to ignore and very hard to overcome.

A poor first touch, consistently caught offside, poor finishing, a lack of physicality or dribbling to be able to evade defenders. The praise for Werner has veered into condescension too often. The commendable patience of the Stamford Bridge crowd is consistent with the treatment of Torres and, for large periods, Alvaro Morata. Werner's greatest advocates sing his praises, but they cite things not extraordinary for a player at Premier League level. Pressing, hard work, off the ball movement.

These are all pretty standard traits, not those of a player expected to change games. These were all traits of Tammy Abraham, the much-maligned academy player who was arguably excluded by Tuchel for Werner and then sold. Abraham is flourishing at Roma while Werner is struggling to make it into Tuchel's starting lineup. Supporters like what they see in Werner. A hard- working, humble and light-hearted character off the pitch who appears to be a positive influence on those around him.

He was a part of that Champions League triumph, but serious conversations need to be had at some point. Whilst Romelu Lukaku has felt the full scorn of fan ire for his failings, the topic of Werner feels like the awkward question no one wants to address.

Alvaro Morata, who was booed by Stamford Bridge in November, scored 24 goals in 72 appearances. Werner has 18 in 72. The desperation at this point for Werner to transform into a player capable of even replicating what Abraham was producing feels unlikely.

It is time to face the reality that Werner would be best suited by a summer departure, and Chelsea can accept defeat on one of their poorest signings in some time.

If Chelsea really is the "ruthless club" then we should not be spending years bending backwards for very well-paid players who do not meet the standards expected.

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