Germany's Timo Werner celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the World Cup Group C qualifying soccer match between Germany and Norway in Stuttgart, Germany, Sept 4, 2017. (MATTHIAS SCHRADER / AP)
BERLIN - According to former German national coach Hans-Hubert Vogts, the newcomer RB Leipzig could be the surprise of this season's Champions League campaign.
"They have brilliant and speedy players. Timo Werner even reminds me of the young Lionel Messi," Vogts stressed.
The 70-year-old expects the East-German side to play a vital role despite their young and inexperienced team. "For me, Leipzig is one of the secret favorites to win the Champions League," Vogts said in a recent column.
Werner so far has scored 25 goals for Leipzig in 36 games
The 2016 European champion coach is impressed by Leipzig's unorthodox game style. "They don't care much about ball possession. The plan is to get to the opponents box as fast as possible. Some of the big clubs are not used to that anymore," the former German international and 1974 world champion commented.
Leipzig, Vogts said, plays a modern form of football, not many clubs can play, and is not easy to defend as they are constantly attacking. It is no disadvantage that the club counts on a young and inexperienced team. "Why should that be a disadvantage? I think it is an advantage. The team is acting without any worries and second thoughts," Vogts said.
RB Leipzig was founded only eight years ago and made it to the Bundesliga within five years from the fourth division. The club is supported by an Austrian billionaire.
For 21-year-old Werner, Vogts predicts a brilliant future. "He can make it to the top. And today I am convinced Timo will make it. Just take a look at the speed he has in one-to-one situations. He is not the tallest, and he has instinct for the right moment," Vogts said.
In Vogts' perspective, Werner has what is called "a nose" for goal situations just like the great German strikers such as Gerd Mueller and Uwe Seeler. Werner has an exceptional talent like all the great footballers in history.
Next to Leipzig, Vogts mentioned title holder Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich as favorites for the 2017/2018 Champions League campaign. "But I am sure we will have a lot of fun with Leipzig and Werner in the Champions League," Vogts stressed.
Werner so far has scored 25 goals for Leipzig in 36 games. According to Spanish media reports, Real Madrid is interested in Werner. In Germany Bayern Munich is said to have Werner on their watch list.
Leipzig does not intend to sell Werner, said club CEO Oliver Mintzlaff. "He has a contract until 2020, and we provide all for his next development step. Why should he think about other clubs," Mintzlaff told a German TV station.
Regarding Leipzig's role in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, Mintzlaff said: "We are the youngest team in the Bundesliga. We just started our second league season. We, therefore, keep our feet still."
The Leipzig CEO though admitted that it is the club's future goal to gain a place among the top clubs in Europe.