Werner agrees to Chelsea move, shuns Champions League chance

Germany striker Timo Werner shunned the opportunity to play for Leipzig in its first ever appearance in the Champions League quarterfinals after agreeing to join Chelsea next month for about $68 million.

Werner will complete the Bundesliga season with Leipzig before making what he called a “dream” move to the Premier League in July.

In August, Leipzig will be part of a Champions League mini-tournament that will see the quarterfinals, semifinals and final be played in a 12-day period in Portugal.

Werner will be a Chelsea player then.

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“It’s not a decision against Leipzig but for my dream, to play one day in the Premier League, the strongest league in the world,” Werner said. “And now I get the chance to take the next step with a top European club.

“I’m very excited about this new adventure, about the atmosphere and about football in England.”

Chelsea announced the signing of Werner on Thursday, subject to him passing a medical examination. The team had already agreed to a deal in principle with Leipzig after meeting Werner’s release clause of about 60 million euros ($68 million).

He is unable to play for Chelsea until next season.

Werner was with Leipzig when the team made its Bundesliga debut in 2016, and he tied the club’s all-time scoring record of 93 with a goal against Fortuna Düsseldorf on Wednesday.

He has become one of the world’s top strikers, with Liverpool heavily linked with Werner before deciding against making a move in the wake of increasing financial uncertainty in soccer because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Chelsea will not be immune to those economic difficulties, but has money to spend following the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for $113 million last year and the fact the club had a transfer ban that was lifted in January.

It has also spent a reported fee of about $45 million to buy Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech, who will also move in July.

Leipzig wished Werner well, saying “we have grown up together.”

“We’ve achieved a lot together,” Werner said, “and as a young player I was able to continue my development in a perfect way and become a national team player.

“For me, it was clear that my next step would take me abroad, and that was always my dream.”

Werner moves to a team that isn’t guaranteed to be playing in next season’s Champions League, with Chelsea fourth in the Premier League and only four points above sixth-place Sheffield United.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard already has three strikers in his squad — Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi. Werner could also play on the left wing.

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