In a transfer window severely affected by the Coronavirus pandemic in which most clubs have been reluctant to make big moves, Chelsea has emerged as the runaway winners of the market across European football.
After not being able to sign players due to a transfer ban for a year, the Blues have made a statement of intent this year as they aim to get back to competing for the Premier League title.
The arrivals of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, and Thiago Silva already made the Blues a strong threat for the league favourites; however, their marquee arrival of the summer was announced last week as the Blues confirmed the signing of Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz for what is believed to be a club-record deal.
The German international is arguably the best U21 player in the world right now. Last season, he became the youngest player to hit 35 goals in the Bundesliga. If media reports in Germany are to be believed, multiple big clubs across the continent were interested in him which in itself explains why getting Havertz is such a big coup for Chelsea.
Did Chelsea need him?
It goes without saying that Chelsea's biggest problems lie in defense as Lampard's side leaked goals all through last season. Having already secured the signings of attacking talents in Ziyech and Werner, many questioned Chelsea's aggressive pursuit of Havertz instead of buying top-quality defenders.
While the signings of Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva show Chelsea's commitment to improving their defense, people are still bound to ask whether that sum of money would have been better spent on someone like Jan Oblak or a high-profile defender.
However, the West London club has stuck to their guns and, after a saga lasting almost three months, managed to secure the services of the German international.
While people can debate Chelsea's positional need for Havertz, the fact of the matter remains that talents like the Leverkusen starlet are not available every year. The Blues knows this best, having purchased Eden Hazard in 2012. The acquisition of such a talent can make the difference while competing and winning major trophies in the long run.
Simply put, when the opportunity of getting special players like Havertz comes, it is worth the risk to do everything possible to bring them in. While, without a doubt like any other big-money signings it comes with a big risk, the reward promises to be as big.
Do Chelsea have space for an attacking midfielder?
The big question to answer is whether Chelsea's squad has space for another attacking midfielder. Mason Mount was a revelation in his first season in the Premier League. The youngster was one of Lampard's most trusted soldiers as he featured in 52 of the Blues's 54 games across all competitions last season.
However, putting so much pressure on a young player comes with its cons and that is something Chelsea saw during periods of last season. During the congested winter schedule of the Premier League, the 21-year-old's performance levels dropped for a period of time.
While Mount is without a doubt set to remain a critical player for Chelsea's future, the need for him to get support and competition to play at the best of his abilities is crystal clear. Unfortunately, Chelsea's other options in the position are not that inspiring.
While Ruben Loftus-Cheek is amongst the most talented players to have come out of Chelsea's academy, his injury issues refuse to subside. Having suffered back problems through the course of his young career, an ACL injury suffered in 2019 kept him out of action for more than a year.
Whether he can remain injury-free and is still the same player he was before the setback still remains to be seen. For now, though, it will be a huge risk for Frank Lampard to rely on him despite there being no doubt on what he can do if he is at his best.
On the other hand, Ross Barkley has simply not lived up to the hype that he generated as a young player at Everton. While he still produces some bright moments, he has failed to show any consistency at all and if Chelsea wish to compete with the best teams in Europe, they need better than him.
Further, Havertz's versatility is among his greatest gifts and does not restrict him to any one position. The German can play as a number eight, number ten, winger, and even as a striker. Not only can he fit anywhere along the front-line, he is also equally effective from everywhere. Even at this age young age, he is a complete player in every sense.
Why Chelsea need the extra quality in attack
While a lot has been spoken about Chelsea's defensive struggles, their attack was as much a problem behind their poor results. In many defeats such as home fixtures against West Ham, Bournemouth, and Southampton along with away defeats to Sheffield United and Newcastle United, the Blues had the lion's share of the possession but did not score a single goal.
Evidently, what the Blues lacked was efficiency in the final third, be it the ability to open the door against teams sitting back with a clever pass or simply being clinical when the chance to score awaited.
There are few players better than Haverts that Chelsea could have chosen to solve the problem. His goalscoring record, having scored 17 and 12 goals respectively in the last two Bundesliga seasons, speaks for itself.
The German's ability to find space in the box and composure in front of the goal are arguably his best qualities. Not only is he a consistent goal-scorer, the former Leverkusen man can also score a variety of goals with both feet.
Moreover, being one of the tallest playmakers around, he is very good aerially and netted a large number of headed goals too.
Furthermore, Havertz is equally good at creating chances for his teammates too. Over the last two seasons, along with his extremely impressive goal tally, he has also managed 15 assists in the Bundesliga.
Moreover, the German averages 4.5 shot-creating actions per match which were higher than anyone in the Chelsea team.
The Timo Werner connection
Havertz is Chelsea's second acquisition of the summer, having completed the signing of Timo Werner in June. The former Leipzig forward was among Europe's best forwards last season scoring 34 goals across all competitions and is certainly going to add some much-needed firepower to Chelsea's attack.
Chelsea's two star German recruits already share a good personal relationship having played together for the national team for some time now.
Having each other will help both settle in a new city and the dressing room, they would complement each other perfectly on the pitch. While it remains to be seen what position Timo Werner plays under Frank Lampard, the expectation is that he will have to play a large number of games as the lone striker.
While Werner is extremely efficient in the final third, he is not a typical center-forward and is someone extremely mobile. Chelsea fans will see Werner dropping deep or switching to the wings through the course of the game and this is why having Havertz will help Chelsea's attack maintain its shape.
The ability of the Blues' record signing to sense opportunities to make runs in the box when needed will allow Werner to make his natural movements freely.
It is not hard to imagine the duo interchanging positions consistently which will not only help both thrive individually but also make Chelsea's attack hard to defend against.
What to expect
Havertz is someone who has all the attributes an attacker could possibly need and is destined to become one of the best in the world. His touch, technique, and weight of pass demonstrate elite quality, and its only a matter of time that the Premier League sees the same.
Having said that, one must always maintain caution and remember that he is still only a 21-year-old and may not make an immediate impact. In the short run, it should barely surprise anyone if the likes of Ziyech and Werner outperform him as he adapts to the toughness of the Premier League.
Despite the high transfer fee, it is ultimately a long-term investment that the club have made and fans should be prepared for seeing returns in the long haul.
However, Havertz is too talented a player for it to take him long to show his quality at Stamford Bridge and it should only be a matter of time until he reproduces his Bundesliga form in England.
In fact, the scary proposition for opponents is that he can still get better. With age on his side, there is no reason to believe that playing around better players, his numbers, and the quality of play won't improve.It will barely be a surprise if in a few team Havertz is seen amongst the greatest Germans to have played the sport.
It would hardly be a surprise if a few years down the line Chelsea look at this transfer with as much satisfaction as the Eden Hazard transfer from Lille in 2012 who was also bought at a similar age.Published 13 Sep 2020, 15:19 IST