Moving to a new country, essentially skipping a preseason, adapting to a new style of play, shifting positions and even enduring a managerial change are all things players experience throughout their professional careers. None of the aforementioned actions are foreign to modern day football players and those events may occur numerous times in the span of a career. For Chelsea’s new signees—namely Timo Werner—all of these things happened during his debut season with the club. There factors have all contributed to significant struggles in the early days of his time in London.
However, Werner was at his best against Sheffield United on Sunday.
When watching the match at Bramall Lane, it was easy to see why Chelsea paid around £48 million for the German striker. He’s been in a slump for the last few months, but his display against the Blades was the best we’ve seen since he netted a brace and added an assist against Southampton back in October. While it’s felt like an eternity since he’s been at his best, one can only imagine how painfully slow the time has passed for Werner. He’s heard the criticisms by pundits and fans alike, he’s witnessed his teammates try to assist him and he’s even gotten inside his own head numerous times. Regardless of this, Werner will not fail like his predecessors and that simply boils down to his mentality.
Werner was on post-match press conference duties for the Blues following a hard-fought win in Sheffield and he looked not only confident, but also extremely happy. Before anything else, a player’s happiness and mental state has to be prioritized. Mental health issues have made their way to the forefront of football and with Chelsea amongst those leading the charge, the club is aiming to prove that athletes are not perfect either. This is perhaps the biggest reason Werner’s striking predecessor—Alvaro Morata—struggled in London.
Morata went on the record claiming he never settled down in London and was never quite happy with the Blues. Injury issues and on-field struggles plagued the Spaniard in the early days of his career and he was never the same again. Morata’s struggles continued as parallels between himself and Fernando Torres were made by the Chelsea supporters. Torres also cited issues adapting to life in the capital for his poor performances throughout his time in west London. Werner’s transition has seemingly been a bit more smooth due to help from teammates like Antonio Rudiger and Mateo Kovacic. The 24-year-old admittedly loves London, as well.
However, it’s not just the support and emotions that have set him aside from the Spanish duo who failed to live up to expectations before him, it’s also his unbreakable mentality. Werner has been beaten up—both physically and mentally—throughout his time in the Premier League. He’s missed sitters, went on length goalscoring droughts, tried to play new positions and even had penalties saved. Despite all of this, Werner has kept his head down and worked harder than anyone else in the league.
When dwelling on his performances by himself, he is likely his own harshest critic, but he won’t let you know that. The German No. 9 has kept a smile on his face and his eyes on the prize despite all of his early season struggles—which aren’t all that bad anyway. Nine goals and eight assists in 31 appearances is just poor for the exceptional standards he’s set for himself following his time in the Bundesliga. Werner got back to superstar form against Sheffield United. Whether or not he keeps that up in the short-term is anybody’s guess, but his mentality will see him thrive for the Blues for years to come.
Rivals and doubters will be praying on Werner’s downfall, but the German will continue to overcome critics by doing what he does best: scoring goals. It all boils down to his relentless work ethic and unbeatable mindset.