We assess the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) appeal of Kai Havertz (£8.5m) in this first pre-season instalment of Great Expectations, a series of articles on players who have shown glimpses of promise and who are potentially on the cusp of a breakout FPL campaign.
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The Germany international mostly struggled to live up to his FPL price tag in 2020/21 but belatedly showed promise at the tail-end of the season.
The 22-year-old didn’t look comfortable in Frank Lampard’s 4-3-3 formation and then missed several weeks of the campaign after testing positive for COVID-19 in November.
The condition had long-term effects, something he touched on earlier this year:
The illness hit me hard. It lasted some four to five weeks before I could even think of getting back on to a football pitch. During the time I was ill. I was quite ill, to be honest. And I wish it upon absolutely no one. Then the aftermath was difficult too – I really had to work hard to get back to the pre-COVID fitness levels. You have to live with it.
Following the appointment of Thomas Tuchel in January, Havertz picked up an injury which ruled him out for a month but he has since shone in the German tactician’s 3-4-2-1 setup.
Benefiting from a move to a more advanced, central position, he thrived either as a no. 10 or as a false nine.
Above: Kai Havertz’s 2020/21 average position map under Frank Lampard (yellow) and Thomas Tuchel (green)
Havertz produced several decisive moments during the run-in, with the biggest, of course, arriving against Manchester City in the Champions League final, when he slotted in the winning goal.
“In my opinion right now, between a nine and a ten is pretty much his best position. He has the freedom to drop, to move between the two positions, and to shift positions between a ten and nine. Between a nine, a ten and a winger: that is the space where can be decisive for us.” – Thomas Tuchel
As a result of being positioned higher up the pitch, Havertz is shooting in better, more central areas, which is highlighted in these shot maps:
Above: Kai Havertz’s shot heatmap (left), goal attempts with shots on target in green (centre) and xG shot map (right) under Thomas Tuchel.
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The main issue with Havertz in 2020/21 was the fact that his minutes were managed.
Tuchel started him in just seven of his 19 Premier League games, which made it increasingly difficult for FPL managers to invest.
However, the table below from Gameweek 27 onwards does suggest that a lot of that rotation was based around keeping him fresh for the Champions League.
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