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05-Sep-2020, 02:26 am

Out wide, up front or No.10: Where will Havertz play for Chelsea?


Kai Havertz Frank Lampard Chelsea

After all the speculation, the deal has finally been done - Kai Havertz is a Chelsea player.

The Blues have paid an £70 million ($91m) including add-ons to acquire Bayer Leverkusen's star playmaker.

The promise of that extra cash is under the proviso that Havertz performs following his club-record move to Stamford Bridge, and while all signs suggest the 21-year-old will be a success in the Premier League, there remains the question of what role he will be asked to perform by Frank Lampard.

"Havertz scores goals with his left foot, right foot and his head," former Leverkusen managing director Reiner Calmund toldGoal. "That is an exceptional quality to have. He is also versatile, fit, technically strong and fast. He is an exceptional talent."

That versatility will be key given the amount of talent Lampard can call upon after a summer that has seen the Blues spend £206m ($272m) on new arrivals.

The ex-Derby County bossalready hadthe likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Olivier Giroud to pick from in attack before Havertz's arrival, and thus finding the right combination will likely be key to Chelsea's hopes of challenging for silverware in 2020-21.

Havertz has enjoyed the most success in his career playing as a No.10 or second striker in either 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 systems, though neither is a formation that Lampard has been known to favour since taking the reins in west London.

The 42-year-old tended to utilise either a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 during his first season in charge, meaning Havertz will likely have to make do with playing in a slightly less familiar role.

One option could see Havertzdeployed on the left-hand side of a front three, though that would obviously mean at least two of Pulisic, Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi missing out.

Should Lampard choose to play his new charge in such an advanced role, it would likely mean opting for wing-backs in a 3-4-3 formation, with the attacking instincts of fellow new signing Ben Chilwell allowing Havertz to cut inside and play closer to the goal than a normal wide player.

It is a role Mount performed at times last term, and Havertz showed during his final season in the Bundesliga that he has the attacking instincts to form part of a forward line.

He scored 18 goals in all competitions for Peter Bosz's side and outperformed his expected league goals (xG) tally by 2.85, which suggests he scored from a number of difficult chances.

Havertz also had a shot conversion rate of 20.3 per cent in the Bundesliga, and none of Chelsea's current wide attackers can claim to have enjoyed such productive campaigns in 2019-20. Christian Pulisic scored nine league goals, with 14.3% of his shots finding the net during his maiden Premier League campaign.

So impressive was Havertz in the final third that Bosz even experimented with playing him as a 'false nine' following the pandemic-enforced lockdown; a move which allowed the youngster to use his 6'2" frame towin possessionin the air as well as continue to wreak havoc with the ball at his feet.

That is unlikely to be replicated by Lampard given the presence of Werner, Abraham and Giroud, and as such a deeper role for Havertz may come.

Playing on the left-hand side of a midfield three as one of two No.8s would allow Havertz the opportunity to continue influencing games in the final third, though he would also be required to perform more defensive duties.

Towards the end of last season Lampard began to playN'Golo Kante as his primary defensive midfielder, and the France international's ability when it comes to winning possession back may allow Havertz a little more freedom than it would in any other team.

Having the youngster in midfield would also allow Lampard to revert to a back-four, which in turn means he would be more inclined to select Pulisic as part of the front three.

Lampard was reluctant to play the United States star when wing-backs were deployed, with it felt that having a player such as Marcos Alonso on his flank forced Pulisic too far inside given he is at his best when he is able to isolate opposition full-backs.

One further option could be to take a leaf out of the books of RB Leipzig and Ajax, and fit Havertz into a 4-2-2-2 system that both Werner and Ziyech are familiar with.

In such a formation Havertz would play as one of two attacking midfielders behind a pair of forwards, with the full-backs relied upon to provide width.

That again would leave the likes of Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi on the sidelines, and so right now it seems the option of deploying Havertz in midfield is the one that makes the most sense for a team that looks almost certain to entertain over the next nine months.

There is a reason a number of clubs from around Europe are looking at Chelsea's summer spending with envy, and their ability to sign Havertz will only further cause concern among them.


Source : goal.com

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