Published on 9 April 2024 at 13:00

The German attacker was a victim of his own versatility during his turbulent three season stint at Chelsea, affected by the merry-go-round of managerial casualties and mis-management. Yet despite scoring just 32 goals in 139 appearances in West London, Arsenal surprisingly splashed £65m on the 24 year old with the intention to deploy Havertz in central midfield as a successor for Granit Xhaka who joined Bayer Levekusen. After a difficult initial honeymoon period at the Emirates stadium the forward has developed into one of Mikel Arteta's most important names on the team sheet and finally he is being used in a position which allows him to reach his potential.



He joined Chelsea in a club-record £89m in September 2020, as one of the most promising wonderkids in world football at Bayer Leverkusen. However, it became apparent immediately that Chelsea did not know his best position and he became a stop-gap striker who deputised the cursed number nine position at the club.

At Leverkusen, he was trialled in eight different positions but found the most success in a number 10 position which gave him creative licence to exploit pockets of space in behind and arrive into the six yard box undetected.

But, at Chelsea he featured 65% of minutes as a striker and it limited his development because he struggled to modify his game to be an effective number nine lacking pace and guile upfront.

He had a tendency of being isolated and was heavily critisced for his lazy demeanour where fans became frustrated with his relaxed and slow approach.

He acclaimed a cult-hero status for Chelsea contributing big goals in finals such as his 2021 Champions League heroic's against Manchester City and his extra time winning goal in the UEFA Club World Cup final against Palmeiras.

However, ultimately his downfall at Stamford Bridge was because of a lack of understanding of Havertz's positional play and extreme pressure which was placed on him with fans unsympathetic of giving him time to adapt to top flight football in England. He was always in the spotlight at Chelsea and amid the turmoil off the field with Todd Boehly's takeover and the subsequent decline of the club it was clear Havertz was never going to be given the environment or support to turn his poor form around.

He was mocked by Arsenal fans when he arrived this summer, Gunners were anxious by his reputation at Chelsea as a costly flop and believed they had signed a player who didn't fit the clubs needs.

Arsenal already had one of the most creative playmakers in the Premier League with Martin Odegaard and have Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah upfront, but Mikel Arteta earmarked him as a midfield addition who would evolve to replace Granit Xhaka.

In his first six months at the club his fortunes did not change to that of his time at Chelsea, he claimed an unwanted record in pre-season as the first ever player to not score a single point on the cross-then-volley part of the MLS all star skills challenge.

In the early part of the season he appeared to be a costly mistake by the Gunners hierarchy, failing to score in his opening nine competitive games and struggling to adapt to his new position as a number eight in midfield.


Mikel Arteta's belief he has instilled into Havertz where he has given him time to adjust into his new role where he is the only player to have featured in every one of Arsenal's games this season has reaped reward since the turn of the year.

The German has the third most goal involvements since February in the Premier League (9) only bettered by Chelsea's Cole Palmer (12) and Manchester City's Phil Foden (11).

While, fans initially questioned how Havertz would strengthen the squad in their title pursuit this season, he has become the first name on the team sheet giving Arsenal something different offensively.

His physical stature gives Arsenal a focal point upfront, which Gabriel Jesus cannot and he has some of the best movement in the Premier League opening space for his teammates with his ability to pull defenders out of position.

Only Gabriel has won more aerial duels in the top flight this season (72) than Havertz and he has played an average of 6.2 forward passes. It is this positive approach play which has contributed to Arsenal unlocking a new goalscoring dimension post 2024.

After a shaky Christmas where they collected one point from three league games and suffered three consecutive defeats in all competitions, it was Arteta's decision to move Havertz into a further forward position that has seen Arsenal become the highest scoring team in the league with 39 goals since January.

A knee injury to Gabriel Jesus and the unavailability of Eddie Nketiah prompted Arteta to deputise Havertz in a false nine position and bring in the calm presence of midfielder Jorginho. This has provided the team with fluidity and cohesion in possession and made them more threatening in attacks with Havertz given the freedom to arrive late into the penalty area and pull wide to lose his marker.


After Havertz made his ninth goal contribution in seven games with a goal and assist in the 3-0 win over Brighton at the weekend, its clear that we are starting to see the player the Premier League was promised back in 2020.

He's become integral for his country scoring two goals in his last four caps in recent friendlies and will be key if Germany want to win Euro 2024 this summer as the home nation.

In an interview with Sky Germany Havertz explained he was delighted to "be here and fight for titles" and emphasised that this is now "the most important weeks of the season".

He also stated that he was "extremely comfortable" within the Arsenal squad at the moment after a difficult start and explained that it "takes a few weeks or a few months" for him to adjust and settle in to a new environment.

Arteta labelled him an "important" player ahead of Arsenal's Champions League Quarter Final clash against Bayern Munich, it is the first time since 2010 that the club have reached the last eight.

One of the main reasons for that is the emergence in form of Kai Havertz, a player whose talent previously lay dormant at Chelsea but who is now proving to his doubters just how technical and intelligent an asset he can be if he is given time and nurtured.


Written by Lewis Eadie


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