Julian Nagelsmann targets RB Leipzig improvement in post-Timo Werner era

Julian Nagelsmann has called on the likes of Yussuf Poulsen, Christopher Nkunku, Dani Olmo, Marcel Sabitzer and new signing Hwang Hee-chan to shoulder goal-scoring responsibilities for RB Leipzig in the new season, following Timo Werner’s summer move to Chelsea.

Werner was Leipzig’s top scorer in each of their four campaigns of top-flight football prior to his London switch, and bettered his previous best mark of 21 Bundesliga goals by seven in 2019/20.

Leipzig’s next best marksman was 13-goal midfielder Sabitzer, but the club have been boosted by the arrival of South Korea international forward Hwang, who produced 16 goals and 21 assists for Red Bull Salzburg last term.

For Nagelsmann, the collective efforts of his charges will be key to replicating last season’s third-placed finish and run to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

“We’ve already signed Hwang Hee-Chan, but replacing the goals of Timo is a big challenge,” the 33-year-old told SportBild. “Obviously you can’t do it like-for-like, so we’ll have to share out his [34 goals and 13 assists] between more players.”

Leipzig began life without Werner by beating Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid 2-1 in their one-legged Champions League quarter-final in Portugal, thanks to goals from midfield pair Dani Olmo and Tyler Adams.

The Saxony outfit lost 3-0 to Thomas Tuchel’s Paris Saint-Germain in the last four, but Nagelsmann has been able to take plenty of positives from his debut season as coach.

“All things considered, it was a solid 3+,” Nagelsmann explained, one being the best and five the worst in the traditional German player ratings system.

“Looking at our third-placed finish in the Bundesliga and run to the Champions League semis, it was definitely better than a three, but there’s more to it than that: steady progress, consistency, transfers, football without fans, the coming together of an ever-evolving club.

“We have the potential to improve in all areas, and we’re all very ambitious. That’s why a 3+ is fair.”

Watch: Leipzig’s top 10 Bundesliga goals in 2019/20

Nagelsmann also reserved particular praise for Angelino, describing the Spanish full-back as the biggest surprise of the season.

The 23-year-old registered five goals and as many assists in 18 first-team appearances after joining the club on a six-month loan from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in January.

“We already knew he was good, but it was the way he just slotted right in,” Nagelsmann explained.

“We loaned him at the last minute in January. He played immediately without having trained, took on responsibility and played clever football.”

Angelino (c.) rediscovered his best form under Nagelsmann, after being left out in the cold at Manchester City. – Roger Petzsche via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Picture Point LE

Leipzig begin the 2020/21 season with a trip to Bundesliga 2 outfit Nuremberg in the DFB Cup first round on 14 September. They host Mainz a week later on Bundesliga Matchday 1, and have a second successive Champions League group-stage campaign – and third overall – to look forward to in the autumn.

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