Former Leeds United star Noel Whelan has lauded Chelsea forward Kai Havertz following his performance against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final. The Englishman believes the Germany international has “found his feet” and is repaying the faith Thomas Tuchel has put in him.
Chelsea lost the Carabao Cup final to Liverpool in the most gut-wrenching manner on Sunday night at Wembley. With both teams failing to find the back of the net, the match went into extra time and then, penalties.
After 21 successful spot-kicks from both teams, the Blues’ substitute keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga stepped up and blasted his effort over the crossbar. The Spaniard's mishit effort handed the cup to Liverpool, allowing Jurgen Klopp to celebrate his first-ever domestic cup triumph in England.
Kai Havertz, who cleverly dispatched his penalty, was the home team’s standout outfield player on Sunday, creating five chances against the Reds. Whelan has claimed that the 22-year-old is thriving down the middle, stepping up 'massively' to become Romelu Lukaku’s alternative.
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan said:
“He’s really found his feet now. He’s got a manager at the moment whose tactical game really suits him, and I think Tuchel is giving him a lot of confidence with the trust he’s put in him.”
“He is a really intelligent player in terms of his creative output – he’s had that time in midfield so he can see these passes. He was superb yesterday at finding the right pass. Lukaku has been underwhelming and Havertz has stepped up massively to become that other choice in the striker position.”
Since joining from Bayer Leverkusen in 2020, Havertz has featured in 76 games for Chelsea, registering 16 goals and 13 assists.
Kai Havertz could keep Romelu Lukaku out of Chelsea's starting XI
Despite being the club’s most expensive signing in history, Romelu Lukaku has had a hard time breaking into Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea XI.
The Belgian has not been sharp enough in front of goal and, more importantly, has not shown the eagerness to win his coach’s trust back.
Havertz, on the other hand, has proven himself to be an invaluable asset to the team. He may not be as intimidating in front of goal as Lukaku, but his creativity and work rate more than make up for it.
With 11 goal contributions this season, the German has emerged as a dependable outlet for goals, giving Tuchel enough incentive to keep using him down the middle for the foreseeable future.