Chelsea have continued their spending spree this summer with the acquisition of one of the most coveted young talents in Europe, Kai Havertz.
The attacking midfielder has signed a five-year deal with the Blues, following in the footsteps of Timo Werner (£9.5m) in moving to west London from the Bundesliga.
Arguably the club’s biggest statement since the signing of Eden Hazard from Lille, the German has been priced up at £8.5m – in a similar bracket to Christian Pulisic (£8.5m) and Hakim Ziyech (£8.0m) – by Fantasy Premier League and has the potential to be a real bargain.
Anyone who dabbled in Fantasy Bundesliga this summer would have been excited by what they saw – including some ‘out of position’ run-outs up front – so we’ll assess his FPL credentials in the article below.
The History and Statistics
Born in Aachen, Germany in June 1999, Havertz started out in amateur football at just four years of age for Alemannia Mariadorf where his grandfather, Richard, was club chairman. His father was a policeman and mother a lawyer so discipline was something that was impressed upon him at a young age.
It was his grandfather who encouraged him in his younger days, spending time with the youngster knocking down gnomes in the garden with his left foot. Richard’s passing when Havertz was just 10 led the German to join his first professional club, Alemannia Aachen.
He only spent a year with his hometown club, with a hat-trick against Bayer Leverkusen in an 8-3 loss impressing them enough to make them sign the youngster. He was highly sought after by clubs across the country, including Borussia Monchengladbach and Koln, but Leverkusen pulled out all the stops to sign the exciting prospect.
He notched seven goals and two assists over 23 appearances in his first season in the U17-Bundesliga West but the next season was where he really shone.
After scoring 18 goals, he was awarded the silver Fritz Walter Medal in the 2015/16 season after being named the second-best German under-17s player; two years later he won the gold in the under-19s category.
In October 2016, at 17 years and 126 days of age, he became the youngest debutant in Bayer Leverkusen’s history and later became their youngest scorer with a strike against Wolfsburg in April.
He went on to become the youngest ever player in the Bundesliga to register 50 appearances. Coincidentally, the previous holder of that record was his new Chelsea teammate, Timo Werner. Havertz was also the youngest ever captain of Leverkusen.
After seven goals and 13 assists in his first two seasons, 2018/19 saw him become a household name in Germany with 17 goals from midfield, becoming the first teenager to hit that total in a Bundesliga season.
Nine of Havertz’s 17 goals gave Leverkusen a 1-0 lead and no player in the Bundesliga opened the scoring more frequently that season. Manager Peter Bosz’s attacking philosophy gave him a platform to flourish and he featured in every single game that campaign.
He took three penalties that season, posting an xG of 13.1 and a non-penalty xG of 10.9; this would indicate that he is a good finisher.
“I guess reading the game has always been one of my strengths. A certain composure on the ball and the ability to make the right choices quickly.” – Kai Havertz
Havertz started off the 2019/20 season by becoming the second-youngest player in Bundesliga history to score 25 goals with a strike against Paderborn on the opening day. He went on to register 12 goals and six assists that campaign with an xG of 9.1. Only one of these was a penalty, which meant his non-penalty xG was 8.3. Again, he outperformed his xG significantly and even upped his xA to 6.2.
Over his last three seasons, his non-penalty xG+xA per 90 numbers have been on the rise every year and he averages an expected goal involvement every other game over that period.
“If you can always be one or two steps ahead of your opponent, you can already win the game, and I think that’s just the player he is.” – Leon Bailey, Havertz’s teammate.
Comparison v other Chelsea assets
Unlike Ziyech, Havertz is not a volume shooter who takes a lot of speculative shots from outside the box: his minutes/shot is the lowest in the comparison.
However, a large percentage of the youngster’s efforts are on target (43%), compared to the Moroccan (34.8%). In fact, his goals per shot (0.19) is almost triple that of Ziyech’s (0.07).
What’s even more impressive is that Havertz scores with nearly half of his shots on target (44%) whereas Ziyech is closer to 20%. He even bests Werner, who has goals/shot of 0.18 and goals/shot on target of 0.38.
In terms of creativity, only Ziyech (20.8) created chances more frequently than Havertz (41) last season.
Havertz spent most of the 2019/20 season deployed as a no. 10, also featuring on the right flank and at centre-forward at times. Given that Ziyech’s preferred position is on the right wing and Pulisic has been effective on the left, Lampard is expected to use the German behind his compatriot Werner.
Werner is a very different striker compared to Olivier Giroud (£7.0m) and Tammy Abraham (£7.5m). As we saw briefly in the Brighton friendly, he works a lot more off the ball, similar to Roberto Firmino (£9.5m).
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£6.0m), who was playing as a no. 10, found himself in the box very often as a result of the German’s link-up play and the 4-3-3 that Lampard prefers shaped up into a 4-2-2-2 in transition. Given Havertz’ goal-scoring instincts, the prospects are mouth-watering, to say the least.
Chelsea were second only to Manchester City for expected goals last season, so creating chances was not a problem and by adding an ice-cold finisher like Havertz to their ranks, the Blues’ goal output should go up significantly this season.
With Havertz having had zero minutes with Chelsea in pre-season due to international involvement with Germany, it is perhaps unlikely that Lampard throws him into the fray straight away against Brighton, with a cameo appearance most likely. His minutes should improve as the weeks go on and he settles in, however.
In terms of injury, he has a good overall fitness record with only the muscle tear he suffered in November 2019 causing him to miss more than 15 days out with injury. He has been unavailable for just six games over the past three seasons due to injury or illness.
Statistics taken from Opta, fbref.com and Whoscored.com
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