Kai Havertz at Chelsea: astronauts in the top scorer gap – sport

Kai Havertz at Chelsea: astronauts in the top scorer gap – sport

There aren’t that many players at Chelsea Football Club who have been with the club longer than Kai Havertz. As the most expensive German player to date, the native of Aachen moved from Bayer Leverkusen to London in September 2020, the fee was estimated at 80 million euros plus bonus payments. Although the transfer was only two and a half years ago, Chelsea has since signed seven other professionals for its then impressive offensive – for a total of around 300 million euros. Due to internal competition, a number of established attackers lost their regular place and left the club for lack of prospects: Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham, Michy Batshuayi, Olivier Giroud, Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Only one person has always defended his status and was even able to expand it in the end: Kai Havertz.

As in previous years – with former Chelsea coaches Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel – Havertz is also a substantial part of the team under Graham Potter. He has played the second most minutes in the Premier League this season with Chelsea. Already, at just 23, he has played 121 competitive games for London, scoring 29 goals and providing 15 assists. Since the World Cup, Havertz has even started in all nine competitive games. The basis for this record is probably his gift of being amazingly versatile. Almost every coach has so far placed him in a different position – nobody has ever been wrong.

Like very few players at the top level, Havertz has practically every offensive position in the program as well: He can act in midfield as well as as a playmaker or in attack, as a single striker or alongside a strike partner. He had even demonstrated his potential on the left and right flanks in Leverkusen.

Havertz doesn’t really seem to know which role suits him best – because he has so many different facets. He can score, set up and initiate goals, he has smooth ball handling, a decent header, a quick start and a remarkable understanding of the game. Due to his size, 1.93 meters, he is also able to shield the ball from his teammates. And he’s not above running and sprinting, forwards and backwards, an amazing amount in every game as an offensive force. His abilities make him a “free attacker”. The newspaper Times described Havertz as a “space-man” who gave Chelsea a new dimension.

The game in Dortmund is his first return to Germany with Chelsea since the 2020 move

On the one hand, its variability ensures that it is used regularly. On the other hand, Havertz has not really settled in any position. Coach Potter is currently using him as a shock striker – because a reliably hitting nine is missing in the squad. Chelsea, who have been standing still for months, have scored just 23 goals in 22 league games of the season, Havertz scoring five of them. This yield is already enough to lead the internal scorer list. The dependence of the team on the goals of the German is almost astonishing: Havertz scored a goal in four of the last six league wins, in each case the important opening goal.

Champions League Round of 16 in Dortmund: Radical reorganization in winter: Chelsea coach Graham Potter's squad barely had time to get to know each other and warm up.

Radical reorganization in winter: Chelsea coach Graham Potter’s squad barely had time to get to know each other and warm up.

(Photo: Alastair Grant/AP)

The hopes of the troubled Chelsea also rest in the round of 16 first leg Champions League at Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday, 9 p.m.) on Kai Havertz. For him it is the first return with the club to Germany since he left. The decisive goals in big games that he has already scored for Chelsea show that he can cope with personal responsibility. Havertz scored the winning goals in the 2021 Champions League final and in the final of the 2022 Club World Cup. Nevertheless, the high expectations of him in England currently seem a bit presumptuous. Havertz alone should keep Chelsea on course with goals, but his systems are not mature, especially not his technique when scoring. He still misses too many chances.

Havertz defines his striker game differently than Haaland, Mbappé and Co.

Unlike the top strikers of his generation, such as Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappé, Havertz defines himself more by participating in the game than by goals. Not only does he wait for the opportunity to get the ball in a promising position in the penalty area, he also tries to integrate himself into the team’s combination game by repeatedly letting himself fall back depending on the situation. He eludes physically superior opponents and creates space for teammates.

However, there is a lack of coordination with colleagues. Due to the radical restructuring of Chelsea’s squad in the winter, there was hardly any time to get to know each other and warm up. The attack center is currently often deserted, there is a lack of presence and penetrating power – as was recently seen again in the 1-1 league derby against West Ham. Because Chelsea’s search for a goalscorer was initially unsuccessful, Havertz may try to play the role of the first attacker for the time being. He’s up for the challenge, although a position behind the leaders would probably suit him even better.

His decision to venture abroad at the age of 20 already showed courage. Although Havertz is sometimes underestimated because of his reserved demeanor, he seems very solid and determined in his ideas. Somehow he has always found a way for himself – maybe even now as a center forward.

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