Leipzig coach Nagelsmann defends Werner for skipping Champions League
LEIPZIG - RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann has defended striker Timo Werner for not making himself available for the Champions League resumption ahead of a transfer to Premier League Chelsea.
"I cannot imagine that he is being pilloried," Nagelsmann told a news conference on Friday. "He is a great sportsman and I can understand his decision."
Leipzig are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League which will resume in August after the coronavirus suspension with the conclusion of last 16 ties and a final eight tournament in Lisbon.
But Werner will not head to Portugal with Leipzig, rather to London after the Bundesliga campaign finishes to prepare for next season.
"He's going to a different country with a different language," said Nagelsmann. "It is clear that he doesn't want to play and avoid the risk of injury."
Chelsea completed their move for the 24-year-old Germany international Werner on Thursday having reportedly met his 60 million euros (68 million dollars) release clause.
Leipzig could be further hampered in Lisbon in August as Yussuf Poulsen is injured, Patrik Schick is only loaned until the end of June and Jean-Kevin Augustin could stay at Leeds United, where is on loan, should they gain promotion to the Premier League.
Strengthening the squad on the other hand is not possible though Leipzig can make further players already at the club eligible to play.
First Leipzig focus on securing a berth for the elite competition next season and could go second in the table by beating Borussia Dortmund at home in the penultimate Bundesliga round on Saturday.
Attacking midfielder Konrad Laimer will be unavailable with illness on Saturday. Should Leipzig lose, results elsewhere could force them into a last-day shoot-out to secure Champions League qualification.dpa