Let’s go back to November of 2019. At Chelsea Football Club, things are very different. The owner is Roman Abramovich. The head coach is Frank Lampard. Tammy Abraham leads the team in scoring. And there is little indication of the transfer market bonanza that will occur the following summer.
The top clubs in Europe are interested in a German wonderkid who lives just over 300 miles from London. Bayern Munich has been mentioned. Barcelona and Real Madrid are also on the list. Juventus is said to be competing. Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Liverpool are also in the running.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz is that wonderkid. His ability is undeniable. There is no doubt about his ability. However, there is some debate about the exact nature of his ideal position. As a result, Havertz was specifically asked about it in an interview with the Spanish daily Marca.
“I’d pick inside right, at position No. 8. Although I’m not a traditional No. 10, I want to have the ball at my feet and have fun on the field. I’ve played in a variety of positions, but I enjoy playing in the centre where I get to handle the ball more. The number 10 will always be my dream number to wear at my club.”
It’s been three years since that interview. Both both Chelsea and Havertz, a lot has changed. A winning goal in the Champions League final has assured that the two are now inextricably linked. However, the German international is causing significant resentment among the Stamford Bridge fan base halfway through his third season.
Havertz has played 112 times for Chelsea, however, he has only scored 27 goals. However, his 15 goals in 69 games in the Premier League are what have generated the most criticism. Given that he has frequently been used as a number nine, it is not a total that is appropriate for a player of his calibre.
Thomas Tuchel decided to advance Havertz. The 23-year-old was frequently utilized off the right or as a number nine under Lampard. However, the German coach believed that the final third was the greatest place to utilize the physicality and technique of his colleague.
Tuchel said early in Kai’s time at Stamford Bridge,
“I think that Kai feels quite comfortable in top situations.” “He seems to be very at ease dropping into half-spaces from a high position, turning and driving with the ball while using his speed. But to complete our assaults, he also shows up quite naturally in the box and the six-yard box. He is capable of playing as a winger, a half-striker, or a No. 9 striker.”
Havertz has occasionally played a key role as the coordinator of Chelsea’s offence. Sadly, they were never successful in more than a few games. Only four goals have been scored by him so far this season, and his performances up until the World Cup break were generally unsuccessful.
Once more, people have questioned whether the position in Chelsea and the German team would allow Havertz to reach his full potential. Perhaps even as a No. 10? Or perhaps as the No. 9 in a pair? Or could he be used as a No. 8, as he was when he was younger? Nobody exactly has a conclusive response, and it seems like Havertz is growing impatient with the discussion.
“The positioning issue is now truly driving me crazy, “admitted Havertz while representing Germany at the World Cup. “Everyone is aware that I can play as a No. 10, a No. 1, a No. 2, and on the right or left. Although the roles change, I can play any frontline position.
Although I genuinely enjoy playing the No. 9 position, I am aware that a striker must also score goals. I’ll give it my all if I play there again on Sunday [against Spain].
If the Covid-19 pandemic hadn’t influenced Bayer Leverkusen’s finances, Chelsea would have likely paid a bigger sum to acquire Havertz from the Bundesliga club in September 2020. Expectations were attached to such an investment, and Havertz has yet to live up to them.
Havertz is now in a similar situation to Paul Pogba when he played for Manchester United. He is a talented player, but it appears that he requires a specific set of circumstances to succeed. He’s unlikely to get them at Stamford Bridge.
Graham Potter must now try to solve the mystery of Havertz. Lampard tried, but there wasn’t enough time for him to succeed. Tuchel devised a workaround, but it was clearly not the solution. Even Germany’s coach, Hansi Flick, is having difficulty at the current World Cup.