Timo Werner has always been quick off the mark. The pacey Germany international swiftly earned the nickname ‘Turbo Timo’ when he burst onto the scene three years ago for hometown club Stuttgart.
This season, he has raced not only up the Bundesliga goalscoring charts, but right onto the radars of Europe’s biggest clubs in what has been a standout campaign for unlikely title challengers RB Leipzig.
It’s been quite a journey for the 21-year-old, but one that has come as little surprise to anyone who saw him on the way up. Werner was earmarked for success from an early age.
He joined Stuttgart’s youth ranks at just six years of age and instantly wrote himself into local folklore, becoming the club’s youngster ever player in August 2013 when he lined up for his full debut at just 17 years, four months and 25 days.
That same year he was officially recognised as the best player in his age group in all of Germany, winning the Fritz Walter gold medal, and came in at number 16 on Goal’s 2014 list of the top 50 players in the world under 18.
“He races like a train towards goal,” said former Stuttgart great Fredi Bobic on the club’s new posterboy.
After hitting 13 goals in 95 league matches over three years, this season was supposed to be his breakout - when he cemented his status as hometown hero, leading Stuttgart’s charge for a return to the Bundesliga after suffering relegation.
But then RB Leipzig came calling. "I am VfB through and through but I hope the fans will understand that I want to take this opportunity [at Leipzig]; I have to think about my career," he said.
Selected as one of Goal’s 50 Rising Stars of FUT, Werner’s decision certainly appears to have paid off in a month that has seen him double his career goal tally in just over half a campaign.
This past weekend he hit his 17th Bundesliga goal of the season, and has become the first German player to score 16 goals in a single league campaign before their 21st birthday since Jurgen Klinsmann in 1985/86.
The emerging star is now also the youngest player ever to reach 100 Bundesliga appearances; he already held the record as the youngest to reach 50.
Only Anthony Modeste, Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have outscored the youngster in the Bundesliga this season, though none of them can boast a better shot conversion rate than Werner at 32 per cent.
His flicked header on Sunday gave Leipzig the lead during their 1-1 draw at Schalke, meaning Germany’s shock second-placed side failed to close the eight-point gap on leaders Bayern Munich.
But, unlike their record signing, Leipzig are in no rush. Formed in 2009 by an energy drinks company, to say they’ve divided opinion among local supporters would be an understatement, though their ascent to what looks almost guaranteed Champions League qualification must be applauded.
Sporting director Ralf Rangnick has built one of the most exciting young teams in Europe and Werner is the jewel in their crown, leading the league in counter-attacking goals with six.
Keeping hold of him will be paramount to their success, particularly with the likes of Bayern and Liverpool said to be sniffing around.
“If you were to play at Anfield and hear the fans sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ it would certainly be something special,” Werner told Bild last month, words that rang out in Merseyside.
But Liverpool, and everyone else, will likely have to wait. "I feel at home here at RB right now," Werner added. "Leipzig can continue to grow, and if I could be part of it I'd be delighted."
For once, Werner appears to be in no rush.