All indications are that Chelsea are about to break their transfer record by landing the German wonder kid Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen in a deal rumoured to be 72m pounds plus add-ons.
The club’s fanbase had initially gone ecstatic at the prospective interest for Borussia Dortmund and English winger Jadon Sancho, but when it appeared that the German club was rigid with its asking price, the Chelsea hierarchy, pulling the transfer strings engaged their brakes.
It is Kai Havertz now with the blessing of the young coach Frank Lampard. After the departure of Cesc Fabregas, and with Jorginho’s passing often failing to unlock defences assembled in low blocks, the Blues are seeking to fill the void left by Hazard, who had to cement a place at the left flank, consequently becoming a Blues legend.
Should the Blues finalise the move for Havertz, the German will link up with his compatriot Timo Werner who arrived after banging goals in the Bundesliga for RB Leipzig, setting a goal record only bettered by Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski. Also, the club has finalised the acquisitions of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and Ben Chilwell from Leicester City.
In Havertz, Chelsea could get a talented player with a winning mentality and leadership quality. To think of it, at just 21 years of age, Havertz has captained the German club on some occasions.
In a recent piece published by Skysports, titled: “Kai Havertz to Chelsea: The inside story of his Bayer Leverkusen rise”, writer Adam Bate describes Kai’s upbringing and how the childhood environment has contributed to his drive as a player.
While quoting his former coach Tayfun Korkut, who gave him a chance as a 17-year old at the club, the writer describes Havertz as a player only attracted to the game and not a fat paycheque.
“This is not a player who is playing for the money as a coach, you find out quite quickly what motivates people…With Kai, it is just playing the game and having fun. He enjoys it. It is not about getting a bigger contract,” Korkut explained.
Adding: “I think to be a big player you have to love the game. I think Kai is one of those. He is intelligent, a nice boy from a good family, not some crazy kid. He is very settled. I do not think he will be thinking about having another million or whatever. He just likes the game and wants to play.”
As for his former coach, he is a player whose parents are a police officer and a lawyer. He had a fairly affluent family background and was immersed in schooling only to come up to pursue his dreams.
His mentality as a big-game player is further painted by Korkut who reminisced how he trusted Kai with a game against Ingolstadt at the expense of experienced Karim Bellarabi. The Turkish coach told Skysports that he took a gamble in a game that would shape Leverkusen’s battle for survival in Bundesliga. And after trailing for the better part of the game, 17-year old Havertz equalised, setting the pace to win the game.
As for Korkut, Havertz is a versatile player who faces opposing teams with a uniform mentality. He doesn’t approach games depending on opponents-he just wants to win.
Even though Transfermarket.com lists Centre Midfield as one of the five positions Havertz can play, Korkut told Skysports: “He is not a No 6, clearly not. But I think in front of that he can play anywhere. Maybe his best position is as a No 8 in the 4-3-3 formation that many teams play now. Somewhere between a No 8 and a No 10. He is more of a central player than a winger but it depends on the system.”
Havertz vs Muller
With versatility under his belt, Havertz has been compared to many players including compatriots Mesut Ozil, Michael Ballack and Thomas Muller. It is safe to say that he has the precise left foot of Ozil and the courage of Ballack. But in most areas, his game could be quite similar to that of Muller.
How do they compare?
According to Transfermarket.com, Thomas Muller has made 623 appearances excluding internationals. Of those games, he has scored 241 goals and assisted 194, and has averaged 46.7 minutes per game. Muller plays five positions namely LW, RW, AW, CF and SS. Muller is turning 31 next month and has staggering numbers despite playing for slightly over 10 years.
At only 21, Kai has made 215 club appearances with 74 goals and 35 assists. Kai averages 16.3 minutes in all games played and can play in five positions namely CM, AM, LW, RW and CF. Like Muller, Havertz is an invisible engine of the team that dictates the play and is always in the box to maximise on scoring opportunity.
With Kai, Chelsea can get the best out of Ziyech and Werner just the same way Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick uses Muller centrally and Serge Gnabry and Lewandowski up top.
What makes Havertz an important player is precision in his passing, his shielding of the ball only comparable to Eden Hazard’s and his stability and height advantage that enables him to win aerial duels. His dribbles are simple and only meant to move the ball forward.
In simple terms, Kai is a simple and unforeseen danger that will only be noticed after the ball has touched the net.