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Kai Havertz

BIOGRAPHY

The Blues completed the signing of a second German international in the summer of 2020 when Kai Havertz put his signature on a five-year contract.

The transfer of the young, highly rated attacking midfielder from Bayer Leverkusen followed on from the purchase of Timo Werner from another Bundesliga club, RB Leipzig. 

By that stage Havertz had become one of German football’s highest-rated young players following his breakthrough at Bayer Leverkusen, setting a series of records for his achievements, including those for the youngest player to make 50 and 100 Bundesliga appearances, which were both previously held by Werner.

Tall (he is 6ft 2in), fast and technically excellent, he has shown impressive versatility given his age. Predominantly an attacking midfielder known for his accurate and incisive passing, along with an ability to retain possession in tight spaces and win the ball back in advanced positions, Havertz can also play out wide or in a central striking postion. He has been dubbed an ‘Alleskonner’ in his homeland – meaning a player who can do everything.

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.

2020/21

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. 

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.

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!

Pre-Chelsea

Having received his early education at local lower-league clubs Alemannia Mariadorf and Alemannia Aachen, the former run by his grandfather, Havertz joined Bayer Leverkusen at the age of 11 in 2010 and made a name for himself in their youth set-up, receiving the Silver Fritz Walter Medal in 2016, given to the best Under-17 players in Germany.

He made his senior debut that same year, becoming the club’s youngest Bundesliga debutant, and continued to grow in stature over the course of the 2016/17 season. He made his first Champions League start in that season’s last 16, although he missed the second leg of their defeat to Atletico Madrid because it clashed with his school exams. Before the end of the campaign he had his first goal, in a 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg, making him Leverkusen’s youngest Bundesliga scorer.

By the 2017/18 season, Havertz was a regular in the team at the BayArena and becoming increasingly influential to the side, helping them return to European competition with a fifth-place finish. After the arrival of Peter Bosz as manager, he was installed as the side’s key attacking outlet, playing behind the main striker, with his eye for goal on full display as he hit the back of the net 20 times in the Bundesliga and Europa League, his most prolific season so far.

He was initially given more of a free role in 2019/20, able to roam on and off the ball, looking to win back possession high up the pitch and craft chances for his team-mates, creating 58 opportunities resulting in a shot on goal in the Bundesliga – more than any other Leverkusen player.

With centre-forward Kevin Volland ruled out for the second half of the season, Havertz often played as the focal point up front and proved himself more than capable, registering an impressive nine goals and six assists in 10 games in that role.

His form in Leverkusen resulted in Havertz breaking into international football.

International

Having captained Germany’s Under-19s, he made his senior debut as a late substitute for Werner in a friendly against Peru in September 2018 and scored his first goal in a 2-2 draw with Argentina almost exactly a year later.

He was named in Germany's Euro 2020 squad and netted twice, against Portugal and Hungary, in the group stages. They exited to England at Wembley in the round of 16 but not before Havertz displayed his class once more.