Not since Eden Hazard in 2012 have Chelsea made a signing as ground-breaking as this. The club are getting a player coveted by every big club on the planet, a player who has been dubbed the best player in Bayer Leverkusen history and a hybrid of Mesut Özil and Michael Ballack.
Some of these tags are hyperbolic and do not hold much credence. However, Havertz is unquestionably among the best talents in the world and arguably the most versatile.
This article will look at his positives, negatives, tactical fit and expectations going into the season.
Kai Havertz has been around seemingly forever, completing his fourth full season at his hometown club recently. Over the seasons, he has evolved as a player and has gradually gone from a talented youngster to one of the best players in the country.
Many would have likely first heard about Havertz when he was forced to miss crucial games due to his high school exams in 2017. If nothing else, the fact a 17-year-old was entrusted with the responsibility of starting big games is a sign of the high esteem in which he was held.
His first real step towards superstardom came in the 2018-19 season where he bagged 17 goals in league play, leading Leverkusen to a top 4 finish. While 2019-20 was not as spectacular, a return of 12 goals and 6 assists is still highly respectable.
His progression over the years, his characteristics and how his traits fit the current Chelsea outfit will be explored in the upcoming sections.
His underlying metrics and actual output have seen gradual improvements over the years. The growth in some of them has not been linear or consistent but that only serves to underline the complexities of player development. Some players have to regress in order to progress, as paradoxical as that sounds.
Havertz finished 2019-20 with 0.64 non-penalty xG + xA per 90 in the league, a thoroughly impressive tally. His xG over-performance suggests that he is an above-average finisher too, a trait that will no doubt appeal to decision-makers at the club considering the team’s profligacy.
An xA-per-90 of 0.3 (via understat) is a terrific figure in isolation and puts him is esteemed company among the likes of Philippe Coutinho (0.27), Trent Alexander-Arnold (0.32), Bernardo Silva (0.28) and Papu Gomez (0.32). However, this is not to say he is an elite level creator (yet), a topic that will be touched upon later.
His progression over the years in terms of simple metrics such as shots and dribbles has been just as encouraging. The increase in attacking output can partly be attributed to the fact he has been deployed in more attacking positions in recent seasons and partly to his own growth as a player.
As he has evolved as a player, he has found himself becoming more active inside the penalty box and actively impacting the game from closer to goal. Interestingly, while he focused primarily on goalscoring in 2018-19, his focus in 2019-20 appeared to be chance creation.
Havertz’s ability to score from different regions is worth highlighting. Unlike some players who limit themselves to certain locations, Havertz has shown the capacity to finish from different locations and with different body parts.
This appears to be a consistent theme among attacking players targeted by Chelsea, with Havertz, Werner and Pulisic all possessing this trait.
Do note the number of goals he has scored from just outside the six-yard box. Lampard has repeatedly stated his to see wingers and midfielders to attack the goal wherever possible and score from close range. Havertz’s propensity to pop up close to goal and capitalize on seemingly innocuous situations would have been a major attraction.
This degree of finishing is a repeatable skill that can be expected to carry over from Bundesliga to the Premier League.
Another point of interest is Havertz’s shot selection. He does not prefer to take shots from long range and instead prefers taking shots from dangerous locations inside the box. This reflects well on his decision-making considering the fact many midfielders, especially young ones, are trigger-happy from distance.
However, he can improve the number of shots he takes. His tally of roughly 2.6 shots per 90 in 2018-19 is what he should be aiming towards this season, before transitioning into the 3 range in the future. Who better than the best
goalscoring midfielder in history to mentor…
Read More: Kai Havertz in-depth scouting report