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Can Kai Havertz truly assert himself as Chelsea’s main forward?

22 Mar Can Kai Havertz truly assert himself as Chelsea’s main forward?

When Kai Havertz joined Chelsea from Bayer Leverkusen for £72m, there was a huge weight of expectation – not least because the German was the club’s joint-highest ever transfer fee, but given his reputation at his former club.

It’s almost hard to believe he joined the Premier League with four years of top-flight football already under his belt. He was the youngest player in German Bundesliga history to reach landmark appearances of 50, and 100, respectively, as well as becoming the second-youngest player of all time to land 25 league goals.

By his own admission, Havertz’ debut season at Stamford Bridge was “tough”, which can be expected – the Premier League season is an intense one, and few make the move from the continent to England and settle quickly. His struggles were compounded, when like many others, Havertz contracted Covid, and had been suffering its effects for months afterwards.

Not only that, but position issues, undoubtedly, affected his game. Former Blues’ boss Frank Lampard, deployed the youngster as a ‘number 8’ – when at Leverkusen, he was at his best when playing as a ‘number 9’. In reality, Havertz operates as a ‘false 9’, and while assists and goals are now making up his game in a blue shirt, it’s his awareness in the final third which makes him such a talent. His movement and passing not only baffles the opposition, but helps create space for his teammates his quick-thinking and trickery adding another dimension to his game. He’s virtually an all-rounder.

Despite the stop-start nature of his season, the German scored four Premier League goals in 27 appearances, and knew he could do better – also vowing he would do better. And that he has – this campaign, he’s already surpassed last year’s goal tally.

While their off-the-pitch issues could certainly affect their chances of success and impact the markets in the English Premier League betting odds, Havertz’ performances in recent weeks have been nothing short of superb. Let’s not forget he’s still only 22 years of age, and there’s no doubt that he had a loss of confidence last term. Yet, Thomas Tuchel has backed him – and the attacking player is repaying his manager for that faith.

In the recent midweek fixture to Norwich City, not only did some neat trickery from Havertz set-up Mason Mount for Chelsea’s second goal, but his clinical finish also restored their two-goal cushion as they ran out 3-1 winners at Carrow Road. The previous weekend, he bagged a brace against struggling Burnley – who are tipped for relegation in the EPL predictionsscoring two goals in as many minutes, as the Blues hammered four past the relegation-threatened Clarets.

It’s four goals in five games – in all competitions – now for Havertz. His improvement in form has seen club record signing Romelu Lukaku consigned to the bench in recent weeks. The Belgian hasn’t scored in the Premier League since December, in a 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion – and is clearly disheartened by his current position. And while Tuchel has tinkered with his front three this season, he may well have finally cracked it with Mount, Havertz and Christian Pulisic – the latter missing out against Norwich, due to illness.

Given their current predicament – with sanctions imposed on buying and selling players, as well as restrictions on extending existing contracts – there will undoubtedly be pressure on the whole squad, not least the attacking front three to perform. However, the dazzling performances of Havertz give the Stamford Bridge faithful something to cheer about, and as long as his confidence is high, his good form will continue.

Tuchel was right to believe in the youngster, and now it’s time for Havertz to kick on, and spearhead the Chelsea frontline.