Why Kai Havertz can be Chelsea's breakout star of 2022

Why Kai Havertz can be Chelsea's breakout star of 2022

Kai Havertz was seen as a huge coup for Chelsea during the summer of 2020. It was expected that the German international would end up at Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, but the Blues brought him to Stamford Bridge. In a Covid-hit summer, Chelsea took advantage and captured one of the biggest talents in European football.

However, it hasn’t quite gone to plan for Havertz at Chelsea. After 18 months at Stamford Bridge, questions need to be asked about his development and current role in the Blues’ squad. There have been moments of quality, chiefly the winning goal in last season’s Champions League final. Some will suggest that his Chelsea career is a success based on this moment alone, but a player with his potential would have expected a more consistent role.
Since joining the club, Havertz has started only 30 Premier League matches from a possible 62, which is less than half. He will have expected a more prominent status in the squad. Currently, there are doubts about whether he would be included in the team’s strongest eleven. Romelu Lukaku, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi seem to be ahead of him in the pecking order.
In the Premier League, he has contributed six goals and four assists with a goal involvement every 247.2 minutes. During his final two years in the Bundesliga, he contributed 29 goals and nine assists with a goal involvement every 141.1 minutes. The drop off has been stark and at the age of 22, Havertz should be trending in the opposite direction. This underlines his struggles adapting to Chelsea and the Premier League.
There have been some very pleasing aspects to Havertz’s time in England. He is performing very well off the ball. The German international averages 16.31 pressures (71st percentile), 1.08 tackles (80th percentile) and 0.7 interceptions (86th percentile) per ninety minutes. This shows the value he adds to the team when they don’t have possession. Chelsea like to press high up the pitch and Havertz is a good suit for Thomas Tuchel’s style.
The former Leverkusen attacker averages 2.17 progressive passes (72nd percentile) and 5.42 progressive carries (87th percentile) per ninety minutes. There is creativity to his game and as one of the two attackers behind Lukaku, Havertz can add value. His reading of the game is excellent, as displayed by his average of 6.74 touches in the penalty area (86th percentile) per ninety minutes. He takes up the right positions and can receive the ball in dangerous areas.
Havertz’s main issue lies in the final third. There seems to be a lack of confidence in his end product. He averages 0.44 non-penalty expected goals per ninety minutes, ranking him in the 78th percentile. However, he has averaged only 0.27 non-penalty goals, which shows that he is underperforming his expected numbers. During his final two seasons with Leverkusen, he was outperforming his underlying numbers.
When he has confidence, Havertz is a clinical finisher, but that is lacking in England and it is showed in his goal contributions.
The issues for Havertz’s struggles have been a mixture of injury, illness and inconsistency of role. He has had spells out of the team, but the main problem for the German has been the way he has been used. The German has been used as a false nine, a winger and as a number ten. Tuchel hasn’t found a consistent role for his compatriot and that has slowed down his adaptation.
Despite Havertz taking his time to become a key player at Stamford Bridge, there is still a lot to like about his underlying numbers. He is still only 22 and there will be belief that he can improve over the next 12 months. Tuchel must give him another chance to cement his starting role.
If he does, Havertz could be the breakout star of 2022.
Stats taken from fbref (powered by Statsbomb)