Frank Lampard has cautioned against making a familiar mistake in writing off a young player new to the league too early. That player’s name is Kai Havertz, but as the head coach tells it, it might as well be Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, or to use a recent non-Chelsea example, Tanguy Ndombélé, who’s become a key player for Spurs. They all needed at least a season or two of adjustment before living up to (or exceeding, even) expectations.
“I think the comparison with Ndombélé is a fair one and I could make lots of comparisons to players that were here at a similar age to Kai — Kevin De Bruyne, Mo Salah, who went away and took time and came back, and now they are absolute Premier League legends.
“I don’t want to build Kai up and put that pressure on his shoulders, but there clearly has to be a time with young players who come to this League, where people have to give them time, patience and sometimes a little bit of wriggle room.”
Havertz is of course hardly alone at Chelsea these days needing a bit of time, patience, and wiggle room. But as with the others feeling the pressure, there’s no doubt about his desire or willingness to fight — which in Havertz’s case is an easy assumption to make, especially in lazy punditry, given his seemingly languid style on the pitch.
“I can officially say from working with Kai that desire is absolutely not part of the issue. Is he as confident right now, at this minute, as he can be or will be? No because he is having a tough moment, as are other members of the squad. [But] his desire, the ground he covers in games is big, the data and the stats are big, and he needs time because we’ve seen this story so many times with players.
“In an ideal world we would be playing better as a team at the moment and in an ideal world you could just sit Kai and say ‘come into this, the feeling is good’, which is what happened in our unbeaten run. But at the minute it’s not like that and there are things around it that are not easy for Kai.
“But I definitely want to put to bed any accusation of lack of desire. I know him well, he’s a good lad and my job is to coach him like I coach the young players that came through last year in this team and made real names for themselves, to keep improving him. And now is the time to give him confidence and show my support for him and he’s got my absolute support.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Now is certainly a good time to show support in the hopes that we can indeed turn our current predicament around, on both an individual and on the team-level.