Fans in the Bundesliga have already been excited by the emergence of new talents like FC Schalke 04's Max Meyer and Maximilian Arnold of VfL Wolfsburg this season, with VfB Stuttgart teenager Timo Werner the latest prodigy to grab the headlines.
Aged 17 years and 154 days when he made his first Bundesliga appearance against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in August, Werner was Stuttgart's youngest-ever league debutant, having won the Fritz Walter Award as the nation's best Under-17 playera few days earlier. The winger scored his first Stuttgart goal against Eintracht Frankfurt in September and has now become the youngest player to reach three Bundesliga goals, registering twice in Stuttgart's 3-1 derby victory at SC Freiburg on Sunday.
"That was outstanding," Germany coach Joachim Löw was overheard saying after watching the match from the press box, while Monday's papers kept up the level of feverish excitement with repeated references to "Stuttgart's wonder boy" and "Turbo-Werner". Werner has described himself modestly as a "dyed-in-the-wool Stuttgart lad", while his former youth coach and now senior boss Thomas Schneider made note of the player's frightening sprint ability: "He has special skills, especially his pace."
While it was Bruno Labbadia who gave Werner his bow in a UEFA Europa League qualifier at the beginning of August, he has made his biggest leaps since Schneider took charge. While Werner has been fielded as a lone striker for most of his career, Schneider made the decision to try him out on the flank for the first time this term – to startling effect. Tellingly, in his first start for the club, on 1 September, he played brilliantly and set up two goals in a 6-2 win against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
However, after his exploits this weekend, Stuttgart decided not to send Werner out to meet the media – a sign of their determination to keep the teenager firmly anchored. After his second goal, observers also noted that Werner was given a thorough dressing down by Stuttgart forward Vedad Ibišević, clearly eager to emphasise that Werner should have squared the ball to a colleague for an easy finish rather than undertake the more complicated task of finishing the swift counterattack himself.
"He's really fun to watch," Stuttgart sporting director Fredi Bobic explained. "But we need to give him time to develop further." Werner has come a long way, but he does not know it all just yet.
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