It is safe to say that Kai Havertz has not lived up to the lofty expectations that Chelsea fans had of him when they signed him in the summer. The 21-year-old was fresh off the back of a breakout season at Bayer Leverkusen where he tallied 20+ goal contributions. With fellow German international Timo Werner and Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech, the trio were expected to help Chelsea challenge for the title under Frank Lampard.
The last part did not work out as planned but Havertz does seem to be recovering his old form after a tough settling in period.
Havertz has played more than 30 times in all competitions despite being afflicted with COVID in November as well being in and out of the side due to poor form under Lampard. He has been used mostly as a striker or just behind the striker which naturally has led the fans to wonder- from where exactly can he impact the game most?
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 8, 2021
That might not be clear as of yet but Havertz is showing flashes of his promise that once led him to be compared with compatriots Mesut Ozil and Toni Kroos. Against Real Madrid in the second-leg of their Champions League semi final, Havertz put in a man-of-the-match worthy performance.
He ran riot in attack, hitting the woodwork twice, the first of which led to the opening goal by Werner. He also won the most duels as Thomas Tuchel opted to start him in attack in his 3-4-1-2 formation.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 5, 2021
This is where we might find a clue as to where he might be best deployed. Havertz seems to be performing the best when he is deployed furthest up the field. Against Fulham at the beginning of May, he led the line and scored a brace taking his season’s tally in the league to four. The playmaker has the ability to control play with either foot and look for the defence splitting pass while also taking on the shot himself when necessary.
27 – Kai Havertz has been directly involved in 27 goals in just 28 appearances in all competitions in 2020 (18 goals, 9 assists). Wunderbar. pic.twitter.com/YMSvS0YLW3
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 26, 2020
He has been playing better more consistently under the German manager but doubts remain as to how long he can sustain his current form. He has been deployed in a variety of roles and generally tends to float all across the pitch during games. With the end of the season close and Chelsea also playing the Champions League final, Havertz knows he will no better place to shine and silence his doubters once and for all. Though, a new sort of conundrum might arise from these improved performances.
THE POSITIONAL QUESTION
Havertz has featured 13 times for his national team and with the Euros coming up, outgoing manager Joachim Loew has some big puzzles to solve. One of which will of course be- where does he play the Chelsea man?
It makes sense to do what Tuchel has done and pair him up with Werner, but the former Leipzig man is prone to odd misses now and then. This might cost Germany heavily who are in the so-called ‘group of death’ with Portugal, France and Hungary.
Kai Havertz has now been directly involved in 17 goals in his last 10 games for the Werkself. 💎 pic.twitter.com/RedZPNNkFD
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) May 23, 2020
At Bayer Leverkusen, where he broke through, Havertz played across the line behind the striker and in his last season, as the leading striker himself. His positional sense is exceptional and he can play a role that Thomas Muller plays at Bayern Munich. However, Muller’s unceremonious expulsion from the national team perhaps shows that there is not space for such a player in the German team.
Furthermore, there is also the worry that Havertz is not yet ready enough at the international stage to mix with the big boys. The Euros will be his first major competition, aside from the UEFA Nations League and it is hard to see Loew leaving him on his own up top so early in his career.
🇩🇪 Kai Havertz has scored more goals in 156 minutes of competitive action for Germany this season (2) than in 1596 minutes of playing time for Chelsea across league and European competition (1)
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 25, 2021
All of which again makes us circle back as to where might he start from in the team. He can be tasked with handling the left hand side of the pitch but Loew already has Serge Gnabry, Julian Brandt and even Leroy Sane to choose from for that. Havertz likes to drift inside with pace as well as be around the opponents’ penalty box which might help in attacking any loose ball that comes his way.
Another potential pitfall is that he is not quite tall enough to hang with the central defenders in most teams and that is one area that other players will have to take the lead in.
TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT?
Chelsea have five more games to go, including two finals, which gives Havertz a considerable amount of time to show his fans and detractors that he is indeed ready to become Germany’s main go-to option in attack. Tuchel has been patient with the young baller who has repaid his faith, having looked much more assured on the ball since the turn of the year. If he can chip in with more goals and assists in the upcoming games, there is no reason why Loew cannot play him the way he loves to play at his club. Hence, this will be benefiting to both player and coach.