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German striker Timo Werner returns to Leipzig

London, Aug 9 (IANS) Striker Timo Werner is returning to RB Leipzig from Premier League side Chelsea with a four-year contract until 2026, the German club announced on Tuesday.

The forward is heading back to the club where he enjoyed four successful years before moving to west London, departing Stamford Bridge for his homeland as a European and world champion.

“I had two great years at Chelsea FC, for which I am very grateful and which were crowned with the Champions League title. The experience of playing in another country and another league has helped me a lot for my path,” Werner said in a statement issued by RB Leipzig.

The 26-year-old Werner arrived in Leipzig on Monday evening in a private plane belonging to the RB consortium. He was picked up directly from the tarmac and brought to a hotel in Leipzig centre where fans were waiting for him for photos and autographs.

Werner moved to Chelsea from Leipzig for around €55 million in 2020 after a four-year stint with the Bundesliga side.

He was part of the Chelsea side which won the Champions League in 2021 but has recently struggled for game time and wants to leave in a bid to protect his Germany place for the World Cup later this year.

The Champions League triumph in Porto represents the highlight of his time with the Blues and he played his part in our success during his first season in England. Nobody matched his tallies of 12 goals or 15 assists in all competitions, while only Mason Mount made more appearances for Chelsea in 2020/21.

Werner’s first goal for the club arrived in his fourth game – a sharp turn and finish against London rivals Tottenham – starting a run of eight goals in nine games, including four across two big Champions League wins over Krasnodar and Rennes.

He could not continue that high-scoring form over the winter after a switch to the wing, although matters did pick up again later in the season following the arrival of fellow German Thomas Tuchel as head coach, making some crucial contributions in the closing stages of the campaign, even if he did not return to those prolific early heights.

He set up winning goals against Manchester City and Leicester City in the Premier League, which turned out to be vital in securing a top-four finish, as well as providing the assist for Hakim Ziyech’s goal in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City to book our place in the final.

His performances over the two legs of the Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid were among his best in a Chelsea shirt, providing our outlet on the counter-attack and opening the scoring in the second game, before starting the win over Manchester City in the final itself.

Further silverware followed in 2021/22, as Werner began in our shoot-out victory over Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup to open the season and came off the bench as we beat Palmeiras in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, securing that trophy for the first time in our history.

He had made another strong start to the season, featuring in nine of our first 12 matches and scoring to give us a late lead over Southampton in the Premier League. The German’s campaign was interrupted by a hamstring injury, but after a month out he scored on his return in a 4-0 Champions League win against Juventus.

That was one of four goals he scored in the Champions League in 2021/22, a tally which also included Chelsea’s quickest ever in the competition, when he found the net after one minute and 23 seconds against Zenit St Petersburg.

–IANS

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