Chelsea has snatched Kai Havertz away from his boyhood club Bayer Leverkusen, but who is the talented midfielder and what can he bring to the Blues?
When Chelsea announced the arrival of Timo Werner to West London in June, many assumed they could not improve on the young, German superstar. Well how about signing an even younger German superstar in the form of the kid wonder, Kai Havertz?
Frank Lampard has landed one of the most sot after talents in world football, but why is this magnificent midfielder in such high demand? Why should fans be excited about his transfer from Bayer Leverkusen? Who the hell is he?
Havertz began his extremely brief career at the club Chelsea captured him from, joining the Leverkusen academy aged 11 and it was not long before the powers that be recognized his potential.
Many 17 year old boys are beginning to take an interest in the opposite sex or go on their first holiday without parental guidance. Havertz, on the other hand, became Leverkusen’s youngest ever Bundesliga debutante, announcing himself to the world against Werder Bremen in 2016.
Since that fateful October afternoon, he has never looked back. As the appearances were racked up, the records came tumbling down. Havertz became the clubs youngest goal scorer in the competition after netting in a 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg and 307 days into his eighteenth year on this planet, became the youngest player to achieve 50 Bundesliga games. Ironically enough, this record was previously held by his international, and now domestic team mate, Timo Werner.
Not to mention he would be Leverkusen’s most youthful product to pull on a jersey in the Champions League, making his debut against none other than Athletico Madrid in the last 16. He could have featured in the return leg, if not for a school exam he was made to sit. Glad he had his priorities straight.
Havertz had soon established himself as much more than just a regular in the senior side, but the crucial cog in catapulting Leverkusen back into Europe. Adapt at playing as an attacking midfielder or a striker, his goal contributions have consistently been impressive, netting 17 times in 2018/19, the most by a teenager in a single German topflight campaign.
Before celebrating his twenty first birthday, Havertz was reaching the 100 mark for matches; he was the youngest player to do so at the age of 20 since Werner. Fast track to his most recent remarkable return, 17 goals and nine assists across all competitions, and Havertz was handed arguably the greatest honor for any raised through the ranks of a singular club: the captain’s armband, in tribute to his excellent service in such a short space of time.
But is he any good for Chelsea?
If the above evidence was not enough to convince anyone of his quality, the versatile nature of Havertz should swing the debate in his favor.
During last season’s superb showing, he was regular deployed as the central attacker behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, Havertz was also dropped further back by manager Peter Bosz into either the number eight or number six role. From here, he could dictate proceedings with his confidence in possession, whilst also adding to attacks from a deeper station. It is not a shock he has been compared to former Chelsea and Leverkusen legend, Michael Ballack, for his creative ability and capacity in controlling proceedings from a variety of positions.
Yet, there is no doubt he flourishes most between opposition defense and midfield, where he can either drop to receive and recycle a pass. Or equally as effective, have the ball played into his feet, turning and feeding his team mates with inuring accuracy. Plus, he is left footed, which always appears more mystical.
Leverkusen’s other forwards enjoy driving infield, allowing Havertz to drift into spaces out wide which is often unmarkable for opposing defenders. Although, it is not simply a case of accidentally wandering into a decent area; Havertz’s vision and awareness allows him to see an opening and his decision making allows him to make the most out of an attacking situation.
Havertz also has a knack of arriving late into the penalty area and scoring goals, similar in sorts to Frank Lampard or Ballack, linking back to his strength in reading the space. In the final fixture pre-lockdown, Botz played him as a center forward. Typically, he scored and bagged an assist. This role, and form, continued after the restart. Havertz netted five goals before missing the tie against Bayern Munich through a muscular problem.
Does he not just sound perfect for this Chelsea set up? Lampard is a braver man than most in his attempt to please his plethora of dangerous forwards, but it would seem unwise not to gift Havertz the licence to kill in behind the main striker.
So where is every other star attacker going to play then?
Which leads nicely onto the next point: who is inevitably going to be the fall guy? It largely plays down to the formation Lampard decides prefer.
4-3-3 has featured most prominently, meaning Havertz could quite easily fill in as part of the midfield three, supporting the potential front line of Christian Pulisic, Werner and Hakim Ziyech. Already, Tammy Abraham is the obvious missing link to this particular style. He has played second fiddle to Olivier Giroud after the resumption of the league, and who’s to say he will be able to bounce back with Werner as added competition.
This also casts doubt over Ross Barkley and Jorginho’s future. A fit N’Golo Kante cannot be left out, and Mason Mount has the managers full backing. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is on the road to recovery, whilst Mateo Kovacic can be a genuinely world class addition on his day. Jorginho has not quite done enough since being reinstated into the side, despite his clearly brilliant understanding of the game, whereas Barkley simply cannot match the creative impact that Havertz can deliver.
Lampard could also wield a 3-4-3 that has worked well on several occasions. He may adapt that to a 3-4-1-2, dropping Ziyech in behind the German pairing of Werner and Havertz, utilizing that chemistry already developed on the international scene. Once again, that battle for midfield rests on the shoulders of Mount, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Barkley and Jorginho. There is a sense that certainly the latter may be waving farewell to Stamford Bridge, paving the way for the future and saying goodbye to the past.