Timo Werner does not have to wait long to test himself against what was the benchmark for top Premier League football last season.
Having made his competitive debut for Chelsea at Brighton on Monday and shown what a dangerous player he can be when winning the penalty for the opening goal, six days later he has the chance to face champions Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, no doubt seeking his first Premier League goal in his first home game for the Blues.
Preparations for that match are well underway, and following training on Wednesday Werner took part in his first media conference as a Chelsea player. He was asked about Sunday’s match and specifically about lining up against Virgil van Dijk.
‘I am looking forward to the game because you have a lot of good teams and with Liverpool, one of the best teams in the world,’ Werner responded.
‘They won the league last year and they have the same team as last year, so they will be as strong as last year. So it will be a really good challenge for us to see how far we are. We had not so good a pre-season because a lot of players come from holiday, a lot of players didn’t play any games before our first game against Brighton, a lot of players couldn’t play, and that made it a little difficult to fight together but I think for this we did very well.
‘We will improve game by game but now we have to play on Sunday and we try to win the game. We are playing against a strong team and they have such good players, not only Virgil van Dijk, the whole defending part of Liverpool are very good. They conceded the least goals in the league and it is a great team in every position.
‘But we also have great players and we have the quality to beat them. It will be an interesting game.’
Liverpool was one of the clubs Werner was linked to in the media before he settled on signing at Stamford Bridge, and the 24-year-old discussed that choice.
‘When I decided to leave Leipzig I talked to different clubs, next to Chelsea,’ he said, ‘but I don’t want to talk too much about other clubs because I decide on Chelsea because for me it was the best decision I can take.
'After one-and-a-half months here it feels right, it feels really good and the team is brilliant.'
— Timo Werner
‘Not only because of the style of football but because of what they have shown to me. It was a hard decision but I am very excited and proud with what I decided and I am happy I decided like this.
‘After one-and-a-half months here it feels right, it feels really good and the team is brilliant. We have some good but calm and nice players.
'We can do well with this team in the next few months and the next few years.’
Frank Lampard played a big part in Werner deciding on Chelsea as his new home and the German has expanded on the head coach’s involvement in the early negotiations, describing it as a strange time when they first met because of pandemic precautions, but further down the line Lampard contacted him a lot.
‘We had a lot of conversations,’ the player said. ‘He texted me a lot, he sent me a lot of media where he could show me the style of football he wants to play.
‘For me it was really important to know that when I come to a new club, because I loved playing for Leipzig and everything was well for me there. So it was really important to come to a team where I can have a vision that sits with my football. I think the whole Premier League sits very well with my style because it is so fast in the Premier League and the fast players have really good space to play well.
‘It was really important that he gave me the feeling that the system he wants to play fits very well with me. Also the conversation was very important because he is a calm and very nice guy who makes it clear what he wants and what his style of football is, but also that you are not only a player to him, you are a person. Not a friend as you have the respectful relationship but he sees you as a person. That was really impressive for me and one of the reasons that I came here.’