When Leipzig sold Timo Werner to Chelsea, you wondered where they would go next with his replacement. There was talk of Milo Rashica from Werder Bremen and even just continuing with Yousuf Poulsen up top on his own. But RB Leipzig went with a more familiar route, with Hwang Hee-Chan.
Leipzig has always poached most of the talent from their sister club in Austria RB Salzburg which included Amadou Haidara and Naby Keita to name a few with Hwang Hee-Chan being the latest to make the same journey.
The Korean international jointed RB Leipzig for €15m with him even wearing getting the same number as Werner (11). So we analyzed what he would bring to the Bundesliga and Leipzig while answering the question:
Can Hwang Hee-Chan replace Timo Werner?
Hwang Hee-Chan has had a stop-start rise to stardom as when he came to Salzburg he wasn’t able to nail down his starting spot with the team until his final season at the club when he practically exploded. He’s already been to Germany with Hamburger SV, scoring just 2 goals throughout the season so hypothetically
In his final season for Salzburg, Hwang Hee-Chan scored 11 Goals and contributed to 12 Assists, his best tally for the club. He did this quietly while Erling-Haaland and now Patson Daka played starring roles in the side.
|Goals (all Competitions)||11|
|Assists (all Competitions)||12|
|xG (Goals-per 90)||0.63|
|xA (Assists per 90)||0.26|
|Shots on Target||31|
From the statistical table provided above, Hwang Hee-Chan has an xG of 0.63 in his final season with xA of 0.26 per 90. Which means he’s contributing to a sizeable amount of goals and assist for Salzburg in his final season.
Style of Play
Like Timo Werner, Hee-Chan is capable of playing multiple roles in the forward areas for his team. He looks to combine well with his teammates well always looking to find the incisive pass into space. He’s also a willing runner himself, having a great affinity for spatial awareness. This allows Hwang to play on both wings when needed.
This combined with his blistering pace makes him the perfect player to replace Timo Werner in the Leipzig set up.
Take the screengrab above as an example. The South Korean is deep at the start of this move and realizes that there could be an opportunity for a 2v1 at the back post and he makes the run into space knowing Daka has the CBs occupied. The ball is crossed in and Hwang Hee-Chan has the awareness to pick out space and score a simple goal with a diving header.
The South Korean under the American manager Jesse Marsch has also been given license to roam when Salzburg have the ball in two situations
- Sustained possession
- Counter attacks
Making the out-to-in runs that Hee-Chan makes, gives him a sense of unpredictability as Salzburg attack. Here, he receives the ball in the ‘no 10’ position where he picks out Szboszlai brilliantly(after selling Firmino dreams), which he should have done better with.
What specifically caught our eye watching him is his tenacious and infectious attitude. The Salzburg wide player is by all accounts a team man and he’s demonstrated that efficiently throughout the season in both the domestic league and the champions league.
Two players here begin a counter-attack with Salzburg transitioned on as they were attacking, Hwang Hee-Chan slide tackles the ball off both of them to keep the pressure going for his side, and stopping the counter altogether.
Like any player not coming from the top 5 leagues, Hwang Hee-Chan obviously has his own weaknesses that he needs to work on to become a better player. Although we found the young South Korean international to be a handful, there are two issues we noticed that he could obviously work on.
- Decision Making
- Over reliance on his right foot
There have been instances where Hwang has had the opportunity to play the ball quickly to his teammates who are in much better positions. Here Salzburg is springing on the counter but Hwang sometimes gets more caught up in dribbling through the opposition rather than play the simple ball.
There is a relatively simple pass on in this situation but the South Korean chooses to aimlessly dribble in the center of the pitch wasting a fantastic opportunity.
Also according to Fbref, Hwang Hee-Chan uses his right foot 88% of the time when controlling, shooting, or passing which sometimes makes attacking players specifically very predictable. Just something we’ve seen that the 24-year-old can hopefully work on.
Any club losing a player of Timo Werner’s talent will feel his absence, but Leipzig have once again outsmarted the market bringing in a talented young forward to take his place.
His pace, combined with his ability to play with or without a strike partner makes him the perfect player to fill Werner’s shoes. Now it’s up to Hwang Hee-Chan to deliver on his promise and talent to fill that void.