Kai Havertz to Arsenal: Why it Makes a Lot of Sense
Kai Havertz is set to be Arsenal’s first signing of the new campaign following an agreement between the club and Chelsea for a reported fee of £65 million. According to the Ornacle, Arsenal is scheduled to pay three installments of £62 million with an extra three million in add-ons based on performances and achievements in the course of his five-year contract.
The potential arrival of Havertz has come with mixed emotions from the Arsenal fanbase, with many supporters quick to point out that his time at Chelsea has been very underwhelming and they are bewildered with the prospect of him continuing his poor form at the Emirates. Havertz was an ever-present in his Chelsea career, making 139 appearances in the course of three seasons, scoring 32 goals.
The first thing I’d advise is for Arsenal fans place their faith and utmost trust in Mikel Arteta and his plans for the team. I remember how vocal the fans were when Arsenal signed Aaron Ramsdale that had suffered back-to-back relegations with Bournemouth and Sheffield United, especially with the drama surrounding Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez. In just two seasons, Ramsdale has proved his worth, earning his rightful place in the Premier League Team of the Season, as well as earning a well deserved contract extension. Such doubts were also placed following the acquisitions of Ben White for a whopping 50 million quid, as well as retaining the services of Martin Odegaard after his uninspiring loan spell with the club. Arteta has identified Havertz as an essential player for his squad this season, and his potential arrival for a reported £65 million will make him the second most expensive signing in the club after Nicolas Pepe.
In terms of his specific role in the team, it is believed that Havertz is the potential replacement for Granit Xhaka in the ‘left 8’ position when he eventually departs to join Xabi Alonso in Bayer 04 Leverkusen. When he played as an 8 and behind the main striker in his Leverkusen days, Havertz always arrived late in the box, drifted into space, linking up play and offered so much in the final third, scoring 38 goals in his final two seasons with the German outfit before making his big-money move to Chelsea.
Havertz himself once confirmed in an interview with Marca that the No. 8 is his best position,
“I would say the No. 8 position, inside right. I am not a classic No. 10, but I like to have the ball at my feet, simply enjoying myself on the pitch. I have played in many other positions, but I prefer to play in the center, where I have more of the ball. My dream will always be to wear the No. 10 one day at my club.
There are many players that inspired me like Kaka, Zidane, Ronaldinho. They’ve always been my idols. Between the Spanish players, my favorite is Andres Iniesta. He’s outstanding on the ball. Unique. I like him the most.”
In addition to being Xhaka’s potential replacement, Havertz can provide squad depth, and serve as a backup to Gabriel Jesus in the No. 9 position, and Bukayo Saka in the No. 7 position. Arsenal is relatively stocked in the center forward role with Jesus leading a line that also has the likes of Eddie Nketiah and Flo Balogun, but it’s unlikely that Balogun might want to stay behind to wait for his chance, especially with him scoring for fun in Stade de Reims last season, and also opening his international goalscoring account for the United States in their 2-0 Nations League win against Canada. Bukayo Saka, on the other hand, didn’t have a quality backup (no disrespect to Reiss Nelson) and in Havertz, Arsenal can afford to rest their talisman in some games to manage his minutes properly to avoid him gassing out like he did in the tail end of the campaign.
Havertz will offer Arsenal his height, composure and brilliant off the ball movement akin to the days of Aaron Ramsey, and with Oleksandr Zinchenko strutting his stuff in midfield alongside Saudi-bound Thomas Partey or Declan Rice (I hope!), Havertz will link up with Gabriel Martinelli and Jesus like Xhaka did and offer a whole lot more than Xhaka in front of goal. The Swiss cyborg can boast of having his best ever scoring run for the club, due to the style of play that allowed him drift forward, with Zinchenko covering in central midfield, and we already know that Havertz is a better finisher than Xhaka, so Arsenal is set to benefit from the German’s forays forward to support the attack.
Like Xhaka, Havertz is also very good with the high press, adding to Arsenal’s defensive numbers further up the pitch.
Havertz also fits into the age profile of the club and the exciting project for the future Arteta is building. He just turned 24 this June and is in the same age bracket with the core players of the squad. This also means that he will hang around with the lads for a while and grow with the squad that challenged the Manchester City juggernaut for the Premier League title last season. Havertz is also a player with Premier League experience, so he will not require any adaptation period like Fabio Vieira for instance, that struggled in his first season with the club.
Having Havertz in the squad will allow Arteta make a lot of tactical changes, as he has the positional ability to do a job required of him on the pitch. Despite being an attacking midfielder, Chelsea had to deploy him as a center forward consistently with Romelu Lukaku shipped on loan to Inter and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being a shadow of the predatory forward he once was. Last season, he scored seven Premier League goals from an xG of 11.5 which showed he somewhat underperformed in that regard but Havertz is coming to a club where goals are scored from every corner, with the likes of Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli putting out monster numbers, while Jesus and Xhaka contributed to the astonishing 88 goals Arsenal scored in the Premier League last season.
I’m happy with the potential acquisition of Kai Havertz to Arsenal and trust me, it makes a lot of sense.
Bonus Reading: Havertz, Xhaka and the 8 – Arseblog
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