On 4th September 2020, Kai Havertz finally completed his transfer to Chelsea in a deal worth over 70 million pounds. The 21-year-old German had been a sensation for Leverkusen bursting to the limelight at a very young age. He was the first player in the history of Bundesliga to reach 50 & 100 appearances. He reached 50 appearances at just 18 years and 307 days. In doing so, he had joined other stars like Timo Werner, Julian Brandt, Max Meyer and Julian Draxler in the elite club of young players to light up the Bundesliga. He was also the youngest player to hit 30 goals in the Bundesliga just to mention but a few records on his name.
No wonder there were many top suitors chasing after the young talent but the blues splashed enough cash to win the race!
In the move to London, he joined the likes of Timo Werner, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell & Hakim Ziyech in what was expected to be a squad capable of challenging for titles this season. Ironically, the same problems accused of Frank Lampard’s young overachievers of last season were still cropping up. The team looked quite good at the start but they started taking a tumble.
Tough Start to Life: Coronavirus & Injuries
Havertz scored his first for Chelsea hat trick against Barnsley in the cup but overall, his start to life at Stamford Bridge was quite difficult. One of the players in the biggest transfers of the 2020 season was finding the level of intensity in the EPL quite hard to cope with compared to the Bundesliga. He was also one of the EPL players who contracted Covid-19 in November. He subsequently had to miss some Champions League, EPL and International fixtures He has also had spells outside the team with niggly injuries ranging from knocks, muscular problems, bruised knee, torn muscular fibre and knee problems.
As he struggled for fitness and playing time, his teammates also struggled to win matches on a consistent basis. Chelsea spiraled down the table after an 18 months roller coaster. Frank Lampard paid the price for the poor run being replaced by Thomas Tuchel who had left PSG earlier in the season.
The club legend left Chelsea after a run of 5 defeats in his last 8 games. He left the blues 9th after 19 games having spent over £200m on player transfers including Havertz as record signing.
The Tuchel Era: False Nine Role
Thomas Tuchel joining Chelsea breathed some fresh air to the side who are now yet to lose a match since. The tactician offered a way back to many players who had previously seen little play time under Lampard. Marcos Alonso is one of those who went straight to the team sheet and looked good in a wing-back role. The German tactician has been a big fan of rotation not shying off from making tough in-game changes. That said, the German is still struggling to find the right combination up top to convert nice build-ups and chances into goals.
Kai is one of those players who has benefited from the arrival of his compatriot, albeit in a new position! In his first start under the German tactician, Havertz was deployed in a false nine role. He put in a top-draw performance against an in-form Everton side suggesting that Tuchel might have found a role in the team at last. It is a role he also executed well in his last weeks with Leverkusen bagging 8 goals in 11 games.
In the role, he showcased his eye for goal and the sleek passing that has been missing in the front-line all season. In the Lampard era, he was moved around a number of positions often as an eight. He didn’t look comfortable balancing between attack and defense but Tuchel might have just found the right place to unlock the potential in the youngster.
In fact, many have argued that his best position is at an advanced role and some stats might back this:
- At an advanced role in Leverkusen last season, Havertz scored 15 goals and set up 6 in all competitions. He has only managed a patry 2 goals this whole season, though we have to factor in his play time and the level of competition in the EPL.
- He had 4 touches per game last season, another stat that has dropped by more than half this season
- His dribbles per game have also gone down while defensive actions have almost doubled this season.
- He scored 7 in 9 games playing as lone striker for Leverkusen last season
A point to note though, he somewhat also struggled to make much of an impact in the same role against Leeds united:
- He missed two key chances
- He had only 1 key pass in the entire game
- He attempted no dribbles, long passes or crosses
- He made one tackle and no interception
Now, he still managed 4 shots on target and ran an impressive 11.2km, beating any of the players in the ever-energetic Leeds team.
What’s the Future for Kai Havertz?
So, what does the future look like for Kai Havertz at the bridge? Well, only time will tell if the new role sets Havertz on a run of games and form he showed in Germany. He has had a tough start to life in London but that could change very quickly with a new manager in charge now. It is a tough business, though. Time is always running out as he looks to emulate other Germans to have had successful spells with Chelsea!