The focus of our player-by-player season reviews now falls on Kai Havertz at the end of a campaign that saw him overcome a series of challenges before a fairy-tale ending.
The young German faced plenty of difficulties early in his first year in England, adapting to life in a new country during a pandemic, while suffering from injury and illness, but came through it all to finish the season with the greatest moment of his career so far.
Once those initial fitness concerns were behind him, Havertz’s attacking versatility became crucial to our tactical flexibility, especially under Thomas Tuchel in the latter stages of 2020/21, in addition to his combined 20 goals and assists, becoming most obvious at the business end of our triumphant Champions League campaign against Real Madrid and Manchester City.
Despite only joining Chelsea 10 days before the first game of our season, leaving him with very little in the way of a pre-season, Havertz went straight into Frank Lampard’s line-up to face Brighton on the opening day.
He started nine of our first 10 games in all competitions in a hugely promising start to his Blues career. That included a starring role in our Champions League win at Krasnodar, but the undoubted highlight came in the Carabao Cup at Stamford Bridge, when he got the first hat-trick of his career in only his third match for Chelsea, inspiring us to a 6-0 victory over Barnsley.
However, having been a near ever-present in September and October, Havertz was forced to step away from the action after contracting Covid-19, managing just two brief substitute appearances at the end of November.
It was clear the after-effects of the virus were severely impacting his ability to regain full fitness, no doubt exacerbated by his lack of a pre-season. There were signs he was approaching his previous form at the start of January, with a goal and two assists in our first two games of 2021, against Manchester City and Morecambe, but injury then cruelly ruled him out again for most of February.
Kai Havertz was the third successive 21-year-old to score a hat-trick for Chelsea. Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic were the others.Hat-trick hero
This time, when he returned, he had clearly put those fitness problems behind him, as well as benefitting from the move to a more central position under Tuchel. He put in several eye-catching performances as a number 10 or false-nine, getting better and better as the season approached a dramatic climax.
Our Premier League opponents were given fair warning in late April by his brilliant performance with a goal and an assist against Crystal Palace, shortly before netting twice in the 2-0 win over Fulham, but arguably his two best games in a Chelsea shirt came on the biggest stage.
‘He is a unique player. He is full of talent, unlimited talent. He is very comfortable in the box, he is very comfortable in high positions. He is very good at offensive headers, he has good timing to arrive in the box, good finishing, and good composure in and around the box.’
— Thomas Tuchel
The 22-year-old was hugely influential in so much of what we did well in the final third during the decisive second leg of our Champions League semi-final victory over Real Madrid, and even more was still to come in the final itself. In a show of brilliant composure, it was Havertz who rounded the goalkeeper and slotted in the goal that made Chelsea European champions once again in Porto. Not a bad way to end your first season with a new club!
Kai Havertz 2020/21 Chelsea stats
Unused sub: 5
Minutes played: 2,666
Kai Havertz Premier League appearances 2020/21
Kai Havertz played 27 games in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, coming off the bench for nine of them.
Kai Havertz Champions League appearances 2020/21
Kai Havertz made 12 appearances in the Champions League this season, three of them as a substitute.
Kai Havertz FA Cup appearances 2020/21
Kai Havertz played five games in the FA Cup this season, four of them from the bench.
Kai Havertz Carabao Cup appearances 2020/21
Kai Havertz played once in the Carabao Cup this season, from the start.
Kai Havertz goals 2020/21
Kai Havertz scored nine goals for Chelsea in 2020/21. He got four in the Premier League, one in the FA Cup, three in the Carabao Cup and one in the Champions League – which was his first in the competition and won us the final.