Kai Havertz: The ideal but impossible to attain Ozil replacement
By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)
As we approach the Summer, a transfer window is supposed to take place. Whether it will or not is obviously still to be determined. The Coronavirus has already led to the cancellation of the Dutch and French leagues in the past week and it wouldn't be surprising if other countries and also the transfer window followed suit. Nonetheless, that will not stop myself and other sports writers from creating pieces referring to hypothetical transfer dealings. One position in particular that the gunners find themselves in pretty dire desperation for is an attacking midfielder. With Aaron Ramsey leaving on a free last season with no natural replacement coming in, and Mesut Ozil’s contract coming to an end in 2021, a new number 10 (or attacking eight) is undoubtedly needed. Some believe that a more creative addition, such as Norwich’s Emi Buendia, would be an ideal candidate to fill the role, while others are under the impression that a player with a more keen eye for goal, like Philippe Coutinho, is what the club need. One player that would do both effectively, although would be incredibly difficult to pull off, is Kai Havertz. Prior to the Bundesliga and other leagues coming to an abrupt halt, Havertz’s side, Bayer Leverkusen, found themselves sat fifth, just two-points off of fourth placed Borussia Monchengladbach and eight-points off of league leaders Bayern Munich. Leverkusen have scored an impressive 45 goals in just 25 league games this campaign through their counter attacking style of play and despite Havertz having a quite quiet season by his lofty standards, his presence in the side contributes to their red-hot form this season. Last season, the 6'2 attacking midfielder managed an incredible 17 goals and 4 assists in 34 Bundesliga appearances. At the time he was only 19-years-old and had well and truly gained the attention of most of those enthralled with world football. Contrarily, this season Havertz has not had nearly as good a season on paper, but still has achieved quality numbers. The German had 6 goals and 5 assists prior to the season stopping and while these numbers may not sound as incredible as those of last season, the stats aforementioned indicate that he’s been directly involved with 24.4% of his sides goals (as opposed to 30.4% last season).
Havertz appears to be evolving his style to some extent, adding a more attributes to his game. Considering he has 2 more assists this season than last, in 9 games fewer, this would suggest such. The goals were never an issue in the mercurial German’s stats locker, but a meager 4 assists from last season’s 34 appearances, even as a modern number 10 could use some improvement.
Though the modern attacking midfielder is expected to do far more than create, and is actually asked to contributed defensively in pressing systems, it appears as if the 20-year-old has recognised that more assists added to his name would do him and Leverkusen a world of good. So while the question is, do the gunners need an attacking midfielder with creative prowess or one with an eye for a goal, Havertz provides an answer; both. The best of modern day attacking midfielders such as Kevin De Bruyne may specialise in one area, but are capable of doing practically anything on the pitch. Havertz clearly has a killer instinct in front of goal, but as shown this season, is also capable of creating chances at an impressive rate as well. Sadly, while Havertz would be the ideal Ozil and Ramsey replacement wrapped into one, the likelihood of the transfer to Arsenal happening sits at the depressing odds of slim to none. Clubs such as Bayern Munich and Liverpool, who are currently far more attractive destinations, have shown interest in the highly thought of youngster and a move to one of those clubs looks highly likely in my opinion. While hoping for a player like Havertz may be ambitious and somewhat delusional thinking, there is no doubt that he is exactly what the side needs. So many young and quality players appear to be slipping past Arsenal and I’m sure Havertz will be yet another added to that thousand page long list. With Leverkusen looking for a figure closer to the £100 million mark, the gunners are surely already priced out of that race. However, I and the majority of people who have watched Havertz bossing the Bundesliga are desperate for his services, but sadly acquiring them seems completely unachievable.