Timo Werner and Liverpool seemed such an obvious fit. He is a quick, mobile striker capable of dropping straight into Jurgen Klopp's system at Anfield and a player, with a reported £49 million release clause at RB Leipzig, who would also mirror the club's policy of finding value in an inflated market.

The Germany international is admired by Klopp, and Werner hasn't been shy in praising the Liverpool manager and his team in recent months -- with several public comments from the 24-year-old highlighting the positive qualities of Klopp and the side. But barring a very late bid by Liverpool to reenter the race and hijack Chelsea's move for Werner, one of the most sought-after talents in European football will be plying his trade at Stamford Bridge next season rather than at Anfield.

Sources have told ESPN that Chelsea have agreed to activate the £49m clause, while Liverpool's interest in Werner has cooled in recent weeks. The full cost of the deal -- £200,000 a week in wages over a six-year contract -- had become an issue for Liverpool, but if Werner had set his heart on a move to Anfield, a compromise could have been reached.

Sources have told ESPN that Chelsea have agreed to activate the £49m clause, while Liverpool's interest in Werner has cooled in recent weeks. The full cost of the deal -- £200,000 a week in wages over a six-year contract -- had become an issue for Liverpool, but if Werner had set his heart on a move to Anfield, a compromise could have been reached.

However, Werner also had reservations about moving to Liverpool despite the obvious attractions of playing for the reigning European champions and Premier League champions-elect. That reluctance is a warning sign to the Reds about the challenges they now face in terms of establishing themselves as the dominant force in English football.

Strengthening while on top has always been a crucial element in sustaining success, but it is not easy. Sometimes, a team can appear too strong, leaving some players to question whether they would rather put game time ahead of success on their immediate list of priorities. Having made himself indispensable at Leipzig by scoring 92 goals in 154 appearances, sources have told ESPN that Werner has no desire to spend time on the substitutes' bench at his new club, and that would have been a genuine prospect at Liverpool, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino becoming such a formidable attacking unit under Klopp.