Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel believes Timo Werner is showing signs of forging a deadly partnership with Romelu Lukaku.
The Blues paid just shy of £100m to bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge during the summer transfer window, with the Belgian scoring four goals in five appearances across all competitions since.
In the meantime, Werner — who cost Chelsea £48m last year — has started just one Premier League game all season, making a further three appearances from the bench.
But in his latest cameo, Werner provided the cutback for fellow German Antonio Rudiger’s goal, sealing a 3-0 win over London rivals Tottenham.
Perhaps more importantly, he left Tuchel more impressed by his movement, dovetailing well off Lukaku to cause confusion in the Spurs backline. Werner is likely to start against Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Wednesday in a match that represents a huge chance for the Germany international to prove his worth.
“He gave us a clear impression of how dangerous he and Romelu can be together,” Tuchel told reporters. “There was some disappointment from the Euros and the first games, I don’t think he was happy with his performances.
“The stuff that you don’t see, in training sessions, he’s more relaxed, more fluid in his movements, with more confidence. That’s why he came on early against Tottenham, there are clear signs he is in a good way and he can prove it tomorrow.
“Timo was in better positions and we had him in dangerous positions around Romelu. And he got an assist… he moves smart, he’s free and his decision making is with more confidence… Hopefully, he can push himself and keep that momentum going.”
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Tuchel has previously hinted at deploying a two-striker set-up similar to the one Lukaku played in under Antonio Conte at Inter.
“We have now with Romelu, the chance to play also with two strikers like they did in Inter with him, or continue with three strikers,” he said in August. “We will see how this works out and who fights for the places around him.”
While Werner will start against Villa, Edouard Mendy won’t return, meaning Kepa Arrizabalaga will continue to deputize between the sticks. Tuchel has revealed Mendy faces a race against time to recover from a hip injury for the visit of Manchester City on Saturday.
“It’s a race against the pain and time. We hope he trains on Thursday so he can be back for Saturday,” Tuchel said.
Following games against Villa and City, Chelsea face a tough away trip to Juventus in the Champions League before hosting Southampton in the Premier League.