Soccer

How Kai Havertz Has Adapted to His New Role at Arsenal

Kai Havertz of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal FC at Selhurst Park on August 21, 2023 in London, England.

The transfer window always comes with a few surprises and one of the shock transfers this time is Kai Havertz to Arsenal. Havertz completed a move to Arsenal in a deal worth around £65 million.

The 24-year-old made a move from Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga to Chelsea in 2020. However, he didn’t deliver as everyone expected him to at the London side. He had eight goals and three assists in his best season with Chelsea despite having 18 and 20 goal contributions in his last two seasons at Leverkusen.

Amidst criticism from fans and pundits, Mikel Arteta specifically requested for the forward at his Arsenal side. The German forward eventually completed a move for 65M. It became evident in pre-season that Havertz wasn’t going to be deployed as a forward but as a midfielder instead. He’ll slot in for Granit Xhaka, who moved to Bayer Leverkusen in the Left Central Midfield (LCM).

Kai Havertz of Arsenal and Ryan Yates of Nottingham Forest during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Nottingham Forest at Emirates Stadium on August 12, 2023 in London, England.
Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

However, their roles will be slightly different. Xhaka was a more physical midfielder and was originally a defensive midfielder. On the other hand, Havertz will be transitioning from forward to an attacking midfield role. He’ll need to learn to be more physical and track back to help his defense correctly. His attack-minded play will also be effective in the third phase.

Despite a few criticisms from fans, Havertz has excelled superbly at his new role. His height and body structure have made it easy for him to adapt to his new role. In the two games so far, he leads the Arsenal squad in distance covered (23.2km), aerial duels won (7) and ground duels won (16).

While the goals are yet to come, he’s delivering a lot off the ball and the result will soon be evident. Arteta mentioned that he’ll be flexible this season and Havertz is one of the keys to achieving that. Havertz’s versatility across different positions in the attacking phase will allow him to combine effectively with most players. It will also open up the opportunity for new tactics to be implemented.