Chelsea reaping rewards from Kai Havertz after Real Madrid’s last-minute U-turn

Kai Havertz was on the verge of a move to Real Madrid before signing for Chelsea in September 2020 and the German is finally showing the Blues why they should be happy they paid £72m to sign him

Kai Havertz has become Chelsea's leading attacker after finding form at the right time
Kai Havertz has become Chelsea’s leading attacker after finding form at the right time

Kai Havertz will probably lead the line for Chelsea how they fight back real Madrid by doing Champions League for the second time in a row, knowing how close he once came to joining the league instead giants.

Chelsea pulled off a coup when they agreed a £72million deal to sign Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen in September 2020. The Blues beat Real along with them Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich to secure the highly rated German’s signature. But everything could have turned out very differently if it hadn’t been for that Coronavirus Pandemic.

Havertz had made it clear he was keen to take the next step in his career after overtaking Leverkusen with 16 goals in the Bundesliga in 2019-20. Accordingly goalMadrid had been in talks with the German club to sign the attacking midfielder and Havertz was keen to move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

That was until the spread of the virus halted football in Europe’s top five leagues, forcing clubs to press pause on their transfer plans. But Chelsea, backed by Roman Abramovich’s billions, were seemingly immune after depositing £180m from sales of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata in 2019.

Leverkusen initially put an asking price of 100 million euros over Havertz’s head in hopes of triggering a bidding war. But Real’s withdrawal from the talks forced them to lower their demands, allowing Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia to pounce. After months of negotiations, she negotiated a deal worth £62m, with a further £10m in add-on costs.

It was a huge investment for Chelsea. A club-record transfer fee spent on a largely untried 20-year-old was not without a great deal of risk, as was evident in the early months of Havertz’s debut campaign. The playmaker, with his lanky and lean build, has struggled to adjust to the physical nature of the First League when Frank Lampard was looking for a way to fit him into his plans.

Kai Havertz impressed with Real Madrid for Chelsea in last year’s Champions League semifinals

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And his situation was only exacerbated when he signed Covid in December 2020 after scoring just once in the Premier League. That put Havertz out of the line of fire but also created fear after he was hit harder by the virus than he might have thought. He eventually recovered and with Thomas Tuchel replacing Lampard, he fitted better into the German’s 3-4-3 formation.

He played an integral part in their run to the Champions League final and became the main character in their European fairy tale as he scored the winning goal Manchester City 11 months ago. His future seemed uncertain after Tuchel’s decision Spending £97.5million on Romelu Lukaku, Havertz was undeterred by the additional competition. Indeed, the Belgian’s lack of goals and misguided attempt to engineer an Inter Milan return saw him dropped, allowing Havertz to reclaim that central forward role – and now the Blues are reaping the rewards.

He has scored four goals in his last four league games, bringing his total tally to 11 for the season. The 22-year-old is emerging after gaining a better understanding of his fluid central role in Tuchel’s line-up and the Chelsea manager recently spoke about his improvement after praising his efforts on the pitch.

“He covers a lot of meters and with high intensity, so he finds the intensity no matter what system the opponent is defending against us,” said Tuchel. “He finds intense runs, he finds distance and that is what defines him. He’s using his body more and more, he loves to create overloads in the half-spaces and that’s what he gives. It’s just the way he plays, his qualities as a player and he’s in good shape, he’s confident.”

Real doesn’t need to be told to keep a close eye on his movements. While he didn’t score in last season’s semifinals, Havertz played a crucial tactical role as a deep-lying No.9. He edged Sergio Ramos and Eder Militao out of position, creating space at the back for Timo Werner and Mason Mount. The trio could start again as Tuchel finalizes his starting XI for the Madrid game despite Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic pushing for starts.

But there’s no question who the main man will be. After Lukaku’s nonchalant cameos from the bench lately, Tuchel will be relying on Havertz to produce the merchandise. And Real Madrid will feel that pang of regret if the attacker plays a key role in knocking them out of the competition once again.

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