Home BETTING TIPS Havertz is a shining ray of hope for struggling players

Havertz is a shining ray of hope for struggling players

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When Arsenal signed Kai Havertz from Chelsea last summer for £65m, a fee that meant the Blues made just a £7m loss, they were ridiculed.

The Gunners have a long recent history of signing players Chelsea no longer want, such as David Luiz, Petr Cech and Yossi Benayoun. It was a source of humour for Blues fans and neutrals that after finishing second behind Manchester City in the Premier League last season, with Chelsea in 12th, the same dynamic existed on such a big scale. Havertz was never overwhelmingly popular at Stamford Bridge, despite scoring the winning goal in the 2021 Champions League final; a huge reason for that was his lack of obvious position. He arrived from Bayer Leverkusen as a playmaker, but standing at 6 ft 3 and lacking the typical pace and diminutiveness often associated with that type of player, he always felt like a square peg in a round hole.

There were flirtations with playing him as a false nine, but the lack of a focal point and subsequent lack of goals soon became viewed as a major factor in their struggles and Havertz bore the brunt of the scrutiny. He was always a tidy, hard working player, but he wasn’t prolific.

When Chelsea were in need of sales to balance the books due to Profit and Sustainability Rules, having spent over £1bn on transfers since American businessman Todd Boelhy arrived in 2022, Havertz was an ideal candidate. Arsenal’s interest and willingness to spend so big on him was puzzling on the surface, and even their own supporters were questioning the wisdom.

But Mikel Arteta saw something in the Germany international, and didn’t focus on the stats or perception. The 24-year-old has slotted into life at the Emirates Stadium seamlessly, beginning as a roaming number 8 before moving forward into the same false 9 role he played at Chelsea. He’s never going to be a guarantee of goals, but 12 in 34 matches, with a number of crucial ones along the way, mean he has more than proven Arteta right and plenty of others wrong.

And yet, neither the tactical impact or his output is the most eye-catching thing about his success. It is that he has left Chelsea and thrived without much difference in the way he’s used, which shows it is more about club culture and the current difference between Chelsea and Arsenal is huge. Where Arteta has instilled a strong mentality and identity, with clear aims and structure, Chelsea are far away from that. All their spending has resulted in a squad full of talented individuals but none of the qualities listed above and much less leadership and togetherness.

Crucially, there is quality there. Players like Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk, whom Chelsea beat Arsenal to sign, are examples of how suffocating it can be to play for Chelsea. They are all highly-rated within the game, but the fees paid for them, totalling over £300m, mean that it is almost impossible for them to live up to the expectation thrust upon them. Mudryk, who cost £88.5m from Shakhtar Donetsk, is still raw and needs development to reach his potential; under the pressure of that fee, and the lack of collective direction, at Chelsea, it is no wonder he is struggling. All of these players are on extremely long-term contracts, too. But Havertz shows a way out for everybody; Chelsea will need to sell again to satisfy PSR, and clubs can look at his Arsenal development and see evidence that good players can thrive in good environments, which is clearly not happening in West London.