It is the 2020 DFB Pokal final. Bayern Munchen are leading Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 and as the embers of the game are slowly dying, Leverkusen are awarded a penalty. The game is gone but up steps Kai Havertz. The 21-year old German prodigy dispatched the penalty into Manuel Neuer’s top right-hand corner in a manner befitting his ability, mentality, and state of mind in the moment. So disgusted he was that his Leverkusen team were swatted aside, Havertz’s desire to win was evident as he made a German legend, World Cup winner and Champions League winner stand still. Fast forward a few months and the swap from Leverkusen red to Chelsea blue is made. After securing the big, dream move he wanted, Havertz is set to prove his worth, prove why he is Chelsea’s best signing and make more than just his compatriot stand still in awe of his talent.
Kai Havertz the player began life in a middle-class household in Aachen, Germany. With a keen interest in football, he started out at his grandfather’s club Alemannia Mariadorf before joining Leverkusen’s academy at eleven years old. It was here where Havertz would flourish.
Breaking into the first team at the tender age of 17, Havertz has set record upon record at his old side. The youngest player to make both fifty and a hundred Bundesliga appearances ever, Havertz set a record in season 19/20 in the Bundesliga by becoming the first player to score 35 goals before the age of 21.
Earning his first call up to the German national team at the tender age of 19, Havertz’s beginnings in The Beautiful Game have suggested nothing other than one thing: the sky isn’t even his limit. This is a player destined for the very top of the game.
Kai Havertz, The Player
Good players do most things well, specializing in one or two key attributes. Great players do everything well, and rather than specialize in one or two attributes can apply themselves wherever the need arises.
The latter fits Kai Havertz like a hand inside a glove. Often referred to in German as an alleskonner or ‘player who can do everything,’ he can play anywhere across midfield or the frontline. A languid, silky, smooth attacking player, his best position is arguably as an attacking ‘number 10’ or as a right-sided central midfielder.
Possessing a glorious left foot, Havertz has wonderful close control and balance that belie his 1.89 metre frame. A terrific dribbler, header and shooter, his ability to glide past players and turn defense into attack means he is deadly when he gets closer to goal.
Speaking to Sky Sports, former Leverkusen manager and first-team coach Tayfun Korkut praised the one key attribute he believes Kai Havertz has above any other player: mentality. Talking of his motivation and upbringing, Korkut pointed to an innate unflappability in the mind of the player. Undeterred by money, criticism, or fame, he is one who is settled and intent on playing the game he loves to the best of his ability.
A Must Have-rtz
It is not a guaranteed indicator, but the quality of a player may often be judged by which clubs develop an interest in them. The more elite the club, the better the player.
It is no coincidence that Havertz’s rise went hand in hand with the placement of Europe’s elite on high alert. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munchen were all markedly interested and, had it not been for the global pandemic, perhaps the German youngster would have been lining up for one of them.
But he isn’t. A Chelsea Blue he is due to some shrewd work by Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, technical and performance advisor Petr Cech, head coach Frank Lampard and fellow German teammate Antonio Rudiger.
As former German great and current Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller put it when speaking about Havertz on his club’s official website, “Kai is a talent of the century. It’s second nature to him and he does things that appear to be incredibly simply to him with absolute calm.”
In a nutshell, Voller’s words hit on an important truth. Very rarely do clubs sign a player that immediately improves their starting lineup, has world class ability and the potential to be a mainstay in the side for the better part of a decade.
Chelsea’s Premier Purchase
The sheer volume of effort Chelsea put into signing him and the sizable fee invested in him suggest that this signing is very much the pick of the bunch in a summer of unprecedented investment. His is a signing very much for both the short and the long-term.
Already Havertz has a Chelsea hat-trick to his name, has broken his Premier League duck and laid on two assists with virtually no pre-season and having just been struck down with coronavirus.
The Aachen-native represents an immediate improvement on the attacking options in central midfield for Chelsea. Arguably nobody can transition the ball from defense into attack quite like Havertz does. If they can, they cannot do it with the verve, grace and fluid motion of the Blues’ number 29.
In a league with a heavy emphasis on physicality, stamina, and now relentless pressing, Havertz’s skillset will prove vital more so than any other Chelsea signing as the club look to accelerate up the league. His characteristic versatility will serve the team well in a league with such high quality managerial talent, tactical intelligence and playing personnel.
As opponents start to try and figure Chelsea out, Havertz’s ability to do multiple things at a very high standard will prove invaluable. They may not quite realize it now but Chelsea’s alleskonner will be the jewel in the club’s crown for this season and the decade to follow.
Written by Dan Hill (@idanknow05)