Chelsea have spent generously in the last couple years to reshape the team’s attack in the post-Hazard (and post-Willian) era, with around £200m (most of that the Hazard money) dropped on the quartet of Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, and Kai Havertz. However, it’s probably fair to say that none of the four have truly lived up to their fees and billings just yet, some less so than others, but certainly not with much, if any, consistency.
Havertz has been no different, with glimpses of his absolute top quality on occasional display, but not with the sort of regularity one might have expected from the most expensive non-goalkeeper signing in club history — and even beyond just the fee, for someone billed as a “generational talent”. Dealing with those sorts of pressures can be challenging of course, not to mention doing so at a young age (just 21, we shouldn’t forget!), in a new country, in a new league, in the middle of a pandemic, while also dealing with a non-insignificant case of said disease.
But over the past couple months we’ve started to get a sense that not only is Havertz starting to settle in — credit to his puppy dog, I say — but that we’ve finally figured out how to best utilize him as well. That part tends to get overlooked, with players needing to adjust from being the main featured player in a given team to a being just one of the many cogs in a team fighting for the biggest trophies on the biggest stages.
The latest sign that Kai is starting to find his feet on English soil was his brace against Fulham last night, scoring early in either half to key Chelsea’s “very important” 2-0 win in the West London Derby to keep us firmly in the driver’s seat for a top-four finish. Head coach Thomas Tuchel was rightly pleased with the contributions of all his forwards, and reserved a bit of extra praise for the former Leverkusen wunderkind.
“[Kai] didn’t play with the attitude that they need me and I wanted more time in Madrid, why do they play me now only against Fulham.
“This was absolutely not the case, he took his chance, he showed up, this is what we need all the time and especially in situations like this, you need guys who are fully committed. That means if you have a chance to show up, then show. If you have five minutes, fifteen minutes or a whole game, whatever it is, show that you are ready and give me a headache for the next game.
“He did that and it is an example for what the whole team did and they get full credit from me.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Chelsea’s transformation under Tuchel from a free-wheeling, let the chips fall where they may sort of side to a controlled, defensively solid, (almost) relentless winning (or at least non-losing) machine has probably not favored our collection of sparkling attacking talent in many ways, but considering that we can win with just one goal or two in the vast majority of matches, it’s all about finding those few moments of quality to make the telling difference.
Havertz certainly has that in him, as do most of the other players at Tuchel’s disposal, and if they continue to show up when called upon, we just might have a chance to finish the season with some tremendous additions to the trophy cabinet in addition to achieving our minimum goal of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
“Kai [Havertz] played double striker with Timo and the two had a good connection and were always dangerous. There is still a lot to improve but another good performance. We need him [Kai] spot on to achieve our goals. There are many reasons to maybe talk about why it is a difficult situation [for Havertz in his first season in England] but in the end you are responsible for yourself and he is. He must adapt as quick as possible. That is what he is doing and that is what we demand of him.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BBC
Six games to go, maybe seven in all competitions, with all to play for. As a man who looked not all that dissimilar from Havertz once said, we can be heroes, just for one day, one game, one month.