As with all rumours surrounding football transfers in closed season, the seemingly protracted transfer of Kai Havertz, has either been agreed, all bar, how the payment for him is staggered or could be hijacked at any moment by Manchester United. So many sources and so many leaks, none of which seem to agree with each other.
Let’s assume for a minute though that Kai Havertz is coming to Chelsea. Who is he? Born 11 June 1999, he is a German and plays as an attacking midfielder or right winger for Bayer Leverkusen and the German national team. Upon making his debut for Leverkusen in 2016, Havertz became the club’s then youngest-ever debutant in the Bundesliga, and he became their youngest-ever goal scorer when he scored his first goal the following year.
He is also the youngest player to reach the milestones of 50 and 100 league appearances in the German top flight. He made his international debut on 9 September 2018, coming on as a substitute in the 88th minute for Chelsea newbie, Timo Werner against Peru, with the match finishing as a 2–1 home win for Germany., therefore becoming the first player born in 1999 to represent the national team.
Havertz is a technically gifted, two-footed midfielder, who is also great with his head. He’s been compared to a young Michael Ballack and the older fans among us will remember what a great player he was in a blue shirt. Any shirt to be exact.
So how good is Kai? Particularly in comparison to the young talent we have already at the bridge. With a price tag of between 70 and 90 million, depending on what paper you read or news bulletin you watch, he must be something special after all.
With Willian proving that money conquers all where most footballers are concerned and moving across London to the new Library and another brilliant servant to the club, Pedro, joining Roma, we presumably need a new winger, particularly on the right side. Callum Hudson-Odoi appeared to be the heir elect for the role, when he signed his new five year, alleged 150k a week deal, to ward off Bayern Munich’s attentions. But, since that signing, many have questioned his application, as well as his injury record. Some fans, particularly on social media, have gone as far as to say, that the 35 million euros, Bayern offered for him now seems a pretty good deal. I’ll reserve judgement. He has to be fair, had a once career ending injury and it takes time to get your sharpness and mobility back. These players now are just as much elite athletes as footballers.
With Hakim Ziyech, joining and preferring the right wing, when playing in that position, Callum has a fight on his hands to make that place his and with Christian Pulisic finishing the season so brilliantly on the left wing, our Mr Hudson-Odoi, really needs to turn that overwhelming amount potential into performances. If he’s not, then he might even get sold on to a lesser club. Bayern have recruited well since they came in for him and after his displays and injuries mentioned above, I personally couldn’t see them coming in again at this current time. That said, the lad does have ability and potential in abundance and I for one hope he realises that potential and challenges Ziyech and Havertz if he does arrive.
If I were Hudson-Odoi I’d be resolving to work hard, whilst having the odd sleepless night about getting in the starting eleven. It’s my opinion that he also needs to work on the defensive side of his game. One thing Willian did that few supporters gave him credit for was chasing back and trying to recover the ball or close down an avenue of attack, when either he or a team mate lost the ball. I haven’t personally seen any evidence of Callum doing that on a consistent basis and I think this is one of the reasons that Willian got the nod even when Callum was fit.
The 2019/20 stats for all competitions speak for themselves. Ziyech, 35 appearances, nine goals and 20 assists (Although playing in a weaker domestic league) and Havertz 45 appearances, 18 goals and nine assists, would be a definite improvement on Willian’s 11 goals and nine assists in 47 appearances and Callum Hudson Odoi’s three goals and seven assists in 34 games (Although many of those appearances were as a substitute and as I’ve already alluded to he was coming back from a nasty injury, so it’s hard to compare, like for like)
Havertz can also play as an attacking midfielder. He’s been compared by some to Ballack, but also by many to Lampard himself. I can see why this is. He’s often box to box like Frank was and I think he’d improve as a player all round, if coached by one of the best ever to have played in that role, namely Lampard.
Does Havertz signing impact members of the 2019/20 team?
Before I give my opinion on that though, I think it’s again a good idea to look at the stats. Mount scored eight goals and had six assists in 53 games. Barkley had five goals and five assists in 31 games and Kovacic got two goals and three assists in 47 games, although he does mainly play in a more defensive role.
I don’t think we can compare the stats of Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Kante due to their large periods of injury. This shows us again though, that Havertz would be a great addition to the squad. I don’t see Mount’s position in the squad being in danger.
I think Havertz would be both the challenge he needs to take his game to the next level, that I’m sure he has, whilst also enabling Lampard to give him a rest. Some of his poorest performances this season have come when he’s looked tired and for a young man in his first season in the Premier League and adapting to the increased pace and physicality, that’s been entirely understandable. I think Kai Havertz would also need to build on his strength, but again, being able to rest him and brink Mount into the team at these times is a win, win, for both the players involved and team.
I think the signing of Havertz would mean the end of the Chelsea road for Barkley. He has played well after the lockdown break and has been influential in some games, but for me, he lacks the awareness that a top, top player needs. He often gets caught in possession and also, at times, makes the wrong choice of final pass. Mount has been criticised on occasions for his pass selection, but there’s a big difference between a player learning his trade at 19 and a 26-year-old, presumably seasoned professional. Barkley has grown on me, but I see him as being the collateral damage for the signing of Havertz.
I also see Loftus-Cheek, having to look over his shoulder and really produce. Ruben currently brings something to the team that we don’t have. He’s direct, but also has a physical presence. He does however suffer from a persistent back problem, along with the other injuries he seems to pick up with alarming regularity.
Havertz would provide that directness, and as he fills out with age, he looks like he could also provide a similar physical presence. I think Lampard rates Loftus-Cheek highly but when players are injury prone over a long enough period and a club has someone of a similar ilk, if not better, it sometimes mean a parting of the waves, as either club or manager, decide to cash in.
That’s how I see the effect a Havertz signing would make on this Chelsea team and the players that would be most effected.