How Kai Havertz went from £89m flop to Chelsea's Champions League hero

Kai Havertz was half way to becoming the biggest flop English football has ever seen under Frank Lampard… but the £89m man turned his season around under Thomas Tuchel and secured a place in Chelsea history with Champions League matchwinner

  • Kai Havertz was Chelsea’s Champions League final matchwinner on Saturday
  • The 21-year-old scored the crucial goal against Manchester City in Porto 
  • Havertz struggled at the start of the season after his £89m move from Germany
  • Frank Lampard could not find a place for him while Havertz also had coronavirus
  • Thomas Tuchel has helped instil some confidence in the forward in recent weeks

A smile appeared on Kai Havertz’s face when he was asked to comment on the topic that has followed him all throughout this season. 

‘To be honest I don’t give a f*** about it. We won the f****** Champions League,’ said the German when asked about being Chelsea’s record signing – and scoring one of their most important goals in history. 

It is only ironic that Havertz’s first season in England ends with a positive outlook on his £89million price tag having been vilified for his mega-money move from Bayer Leverkusen up until that point. 

Kai Havertz was the Champions League matchwinner for Chelsea in Saturday’s tense final

The German scored the only goal of the game in the European showpiece final in Porto

There was reason to be concerned for the 21-year-old forward up at the beginning of the season. The German must have been thinking whether 2021 would be his year when the New Year bells rang on January 1. 

The forward had been left on the bench by Lampard for the Blues’ last four league matches. He had one Premier League goal to his name all term and failed to score in the Champions League group stages – with his only other goals in the Chelsea blue coming against Barnsley. 

Havertz was all set to become one of English football’s all-time flop but a resurgence saw him create a goal in the Champions League semi-final and net the winner against Manchester City in the biggest game in club football. 

Havertz started his Chelsea career poorly and only netted one league goal before Christmas

The 21-year-old’s road to redemption is partly down to Lampard’s exit from the club in January and the arrival of fellow countryman Thomas Tuchel as head coach.

Lampard is not solely to blame for the youngster’s struggles at the beginning of the campaign, as Havertz’s coronavirus diagnosis in November clearly had an affect on his displays, as has been the case with several Premier League players this term. 

But the Chelsea club legend did not help Havertz’s first few months by failing to find the right place to play the German in his set-up.

Former Blues boss Frank Lampard (right) couldn’t find a spot for Havertz in his line-up

Lampard rotated Havertz between a central attacking midfield role and a right-wing position which never change the German a chance to settle in to life on the pitch in west London.

The move to play the German on the right was a particular surprise given that the majority of his goals for Leverkusen last season came when Havertz was used in a central role. 

It was therefore no surprise that Havertz’s first start on the wing for Chelsea – a 1-0 defeat away at Everton – was the beginning of the end for Lampard’s time at Stamford Bridge. 

The Blues won just two games in eight matches since then which saw Lampard sacked with the club in ninth place. German boss Tuchel came in and ruled Havertz as a central player and nothing more than that. 

Thomas Tuchel (middle) arrived in January and instilled a confidence in central star Havertz


Kai Havertz under Frank Lampard:

Games played: 24 (17 starts)

Minutes played: 1390

Shots: 22

Shots on Target: 11

Kai Havertz under Thomas Tuchel:

Games played:  21 (12 starts)

Minutes played: 1128

Shots: 32

Shots On Target: 14 

The German was injured for Tuchel’s first few matches in charge at Stamford Bridge but it was another Everton match which proved to be the turning point for the 21-year-old in west London.

Havertz started a 2-0 home win over the Toffees, setting up one goal and winning a penalty the other and the German has played a regular role ever since – which is surprising given how often Tuchel rotates his side. 

A Premier League purple patch saw him score three goals and register two assists between the beginning of March and the start of May, while he started all but one of the Blues’ Champions League matches during that period. 

Tuchel helped instil a confidence in the German that was clearly lacking at the start of the campaign. 

While he has played fewer matches and minutes in all competitions under Tuchel compared to Lampard, the forward has managed more shots and efforts on target under the current Blues boss than under his predecessor. 

Havertz is, quite simply, more confident to get efforts off on goal compared to six months ago. Tuchel moving him back inside and closer to goal has allowed him more opportunities to prove the doubters wrong. 

The confidence Tuchel has given him was crucial to Chelsea winning the Champions League

It meant when Mason Mount played in Havertz late on in the first-half in the Champions League final, the German was confident enough to take on Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson and attempt to round him.

There was a major slice of luck involved as the ball fell kindly to the German after the Brazilian goalkeeper got a hand on the ball, but it was good fortune that Havertz deserved after such a tough start to life in west London.

Now he is known as the man who won Chelsea the Champions League, not the player who cost the club £89million to achieve it.

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