Kai Havertz & Arsenal – Exploring the fit and analysis

By afcaarush
10 Min Read

This summer transfer window is absolutely vital for Arsenal as they get back into the Champions League following an extended period of absence from Europe’s most elite competition & well have they made that show. Arsenal this window have pushed and wrapped up their key signings quickly and first of them all to arrive was Kai Havertz, which is considered more of an opportunistic signing for a deal worth an initial £60m plus £5m add ons.

Although still just 24-year-old, German was regarded as a “Wonder Kid” from his early days at Bayer Leverkusen, he couldn’t actually handle the pressure of that tag in his spell at Chelsea bagging 32 goals in 139 appearances or maybe that was just an environment thing.

While the German international is talented, it’s not absolutely clear how he would fit into Arteta’s team.

Kai Havertz is a very admirable pick for Arsenal, especially considering Arteta and how he has a habit of working and transforming young talents. Havertz would be a more than decent depth for this young Arsenal squad.

Lack of depth saw Arsenal fold during the end of last season where they toiled with Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard and Gabriel Martinelli constantly without certain quality depth at multiple places in that eleven. Havertz provides the depth, the work rate and the versatility to play in a number of positions across the front line. He has often played a deeper role for Germany and he could be an obvious pick for this creative Arsenal side.

Chelsea’s managers – Lampard, Thomas Tuchel and Potter all failed to reignite Havertz’ performances who struggled in different systems. A massive reason he underperformed at Chelsea was because of these foundations that weren’t provided to him. But Arteta believes that he can succeed where the rest failed.

Frank Lampard saw Havertz as a central midfielder whereas Graham Potter used him as a forward. And the rest have used him as the link between midfield and attack.


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Havertz is a tall and elegant footballer with top-level technical quality, as well as excellent football IQ and tactical awareness. Not only is he a great player in the traditional senses, he is also consistent, disciplined, and rarely injured. May it be wide, central, goal-scoring, or playmaking – Kai Havertz can operate in almost any role from midfield to striker.

German also happens to be a high-level creator and excellent facilitator, one that plays decisive passes to beat defenses and combines with team-mates. At times last season Arsenal missed the direct route forward. Kai Havertz can provide a way of progressing up the pitch.


He has a variety of different finishes. Excellent at positioning in transitions. He thrives in flowing attacking moves, often involved in combinations that drag defenses out of position and create space for himself or others. He can really threaten as an aerial presence in the penalty area – no surprise given his 6’3 height. A skillset of his that Arsenal does miss in recent times. Additionally, his excellent runs allow him to create space for others, and himself, especially in the attacking third.

The foundation of his game is his off the ball ability. Havertz’s is constantly scanning as he looks to receive the ball, anticipating where he will need to direct his first touch in order to position himself to either carry the ball or play it to a team-mate (Ø-esque).

He ranked 2nd in the league for the amount of runs made (1011) and covered a total distance of 23KM through the runs made. (Sky Sports)


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Before his switch to Chelsea in 2020, Havertz had revealed his ideal position in an interview with Marca. “I would say the No. 8 position, inside right. I’m not a classic No. 10, but I like to have the ball at my feet, simply enjoying myself on the pitch.” Although this role has been taken up by Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard, he may have no troubles in playing the same role from the left in Arteta’s 4-3-3 set up.

He might not necessarily play as an 8. He can play as Arsenal’s most attacking midfielder in possession just behind the 9. He’ll certainly excel in this role because of his late runs and aerial power. He is a super dominant receiver of the ball in dangerous areas and his physical profile suggests he can be one of the most decisive converters of those balls.


The potential of Havertz playing as a proper 8 to replace Xhaka is also alive and most realistic. He played a deeper role at Leverkusen, as the double pivot. So Mikel could test him out in deeper positions too. Even in his early days at Chelsea, he did say once in an interview at Chelsea that he would love to play that deeper 8 role again and looks like that could possibly be what Arteta will deploy him as.

Xhaka in his new role often made off the all movements, made runs into the box, made more spaces to shoot. Havertz can do the exact replica and way better. What looks to happen more realistically is that Havertz would play in the open spaces in the team. He’s replacing Xhaka but in a different role.

He could take up a hybrid role of taking up the midfield place on the ball and make them off-the-ball runs on overloads around Jesus and exploit space with his aerial duality. Havertz is a player that relies in abundance on confidence, and that generally shows on the field.


His Defensive Work Rate: Now let’s get one thing straight, he is not Granit Xhaka. Although he does lack the defensive abilities that Xhaka would balance out in this team, Havertz is pretty decent when it comes to dropping back. On an average he makes about 1.13 tackles per game with a percentile of 90%.

Another thing that Chelsea fans would argue is his prowess in front of goal – although as earlier stated, Kai is a player highly reliant on confidence and environment and hence he is thought to succeed at Arsenal owing to the environment Mikel has created at N5.

Possible positions Havertz could start into:

  1. 4-3-3 as the No 8 role (LCM), thriving into the open spaces
  2. 4-4-2 in which he’s the second striker with Gabriel Jesus


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Imagine he links up with Saka and Martinelli on the wings, runs into the open spaces created by Gabriel Jesus and builds a strong bond with Ødegaard! Arteta is the perfect coach to transform a talent like Havertz.

Imagine Havertz starting in the newer role of Granit Xhaka on paper as a left sided No 8 in Arsenal’s 4-3-3 and Declan Rice providing him the defensive stability and balance

Arteta wouldn’t have been signing the underperforming Chelsea star if he didn’t think he wouldn’t improve the Arsenal team. A fresh start at Arsenal is all that he needs. If he turns out to over achieve everyone’s expectations, you will well and truly see something big happening at Arsenal again!

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