Near-record signing Kai Havertz made his Chelsea debut last night, and while he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he showed plenty of enterprising play as well as tactical awareness, a few silky touches (and one very bad pass), and even some good link-up in the final third (especially with Reece James) despite only training with the team for about a week. For him personally it was also a good introduction to the famed toughness of the Premier League.
“It was a very tough game, very difficult because I had long holidays and I came back and trained for five or six days with the team. More important is that we won so I am very happy to make my debut.
“The Premier League is much tougher than the Bundesliga. I have seen that in training and saw it in the game as well. But I am happy to play 80 minutes and hopefully next week I will continue.”
-Kai Haverz; source: Evening Standard
Havertz may not have been fully fit, but perhaps the defining play of his 80 minutes on the pitch came in minute 74, when he gave the ball away in the attacking third but chased all the way back to his own penalty area to make the tackle on Solly March and win the ball back. That’s a managers dream right there, and Frank Lampard made sure to point that out post-match as well.
“I liked him. It’s not a game where you come away and say ‘there’s 10 vintage moments’ but I thought there were moments of big quality and calmness. It’s a big ask [to settle in immediately] there’s lot on his shoulders for the singing that he was he’s young and coming into a new league.
“He plays the game at such a quality and the way in which he receives the ball. We saw a few glimpses of that. We saw him sprint back 80 yards to make a tackle after giving the ball away. Everything I’ve seen in terms of his character is spot on.
“His quality will come through. It’s asking a lot for him tonight but we saw glimpses. We’re going to see a lot more of him, I think he’s a hugely talented young player.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Metro
Lampard deployed Havertz on the right wing, but that’s unlikely to be the only position where the 21-year-old (21!) will play this season (and beyond). At Leverkusen, he played just as often, if not even more often in the center, either as an attacking midfielder or a second striker, and that’s probably something we’ll try as well, especially after Ruben Loftus-Cheek struggled there again yesterday.
That sort of versatility is another managerial dream, and something that Lampard has been banging on about since day one on the Chelsea job. He now has a multitude of versatile attackers; we just have to unlock the winning combination(s) — which will surely feature Havertz in a variety of roles and positions.