Berlin: RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner may have one eye on the future when his side take on Bayern Munich in the German Cup final in Berlin this Saturday.
Werner, 23, has been in electric form for Leipzig this season, and the nimble, light-footed striker is being mooted as a possible challenger to star striker Robert Lewandowski at Bayern.
With Bayern set to undergo a squad overhaul ahead of next season, Werner is one of several players who are said to be on the radar of the recently crowned Bundesliga champions.
The speculation has seen tensions flare between the two clubs this season.
The 23-year-old’s star has been rising since he joined Leipzig from home club Stuttgart back in 2016.
He has scored 61 goals in 113 games for the Saxon outfit, establishing himself as the star frontman at the tip of Leipzig’s energetic, pressing-based system.
Now a Germany international, he has been particularly impressive this season, notching up 19 goals and 10 assists in all competitions.
Yet with his current deal set to expire in 2020, Werner has hesitated to renew his contract and openly flirted with a move to Munich.
“There is only one club in Germany that I would move to,” he told Sky in December.
Bayern midfielder and former Leipzig man Joshua Kimmich also fanned the flames recently, heaping praise on Werner ahead of Saturday’s cup final.
“He is unbelievably quick, has a brutal nose for goal and is great in front of goal,” Kimmich told Sportbuzzer website.
Former Bayern star Lothar Matthaeus, meanwhile, has repeatedly urged the club to sign Werner.
“Timo is an all-rounder up front ... he would fit perfectly at Bayern and give them a lot of options in attack over the coming years,” wrote Matthaeus in his column for Sky in December.
Leipzig have repeatedly ruled out allowing Werner to leave on a free transfer in 2020, fuelling speculation that they will be forced to sell him at the end of this season.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge riled the Leipzig leadership in March when he told them not to overplay their hand when it came to Werner.
“I have a lot of experience in the business, and when you go about transfers as aggressively as RB, it’s not in the interest of the club,” he said.
Bayern, though, still appear to be undecided as to whether they want to sign Werner ahead of next season.
“If Bayern were completely sure about Timo, they would have made an official offer by now, anything else would be uncharacteristic of them,” Ralf Rangnick, the Leipzig manager, told Sport Bild magazine this week.
Though he can also play on the wings, Werner’s preferred role is in the centre, where he would be competing for a first team place with Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski at Bayern.
Neither of those players are among the group of senior names expected to leave at the end of the summer.
Questions also remain over Werner’s ability to perform on the biggest stage after his disappointing World Cup in 2018.
All the more reason why the Leipzig ace will be looking to make his mark on Saturday’s final.
With Bayern out to end a turbulent season with the domestic double, Werner has the chance to spoil the party and show the Bavarians what they are missing.
Catch the match
DFB Pokal final
RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich
Match broadcast on BeIN SPorts