Why are Arsenal signing Kai Havertz?

The football lovers

PREMIER LEAGUE: Why are Arsenal signing Kai Havertz?

Mark Kinyanjui 16:30 - 25.06.2023

Arsenal are reportedly set to complete a deal for Chelsea's Kai Havertz, but why?

Are you unconvinced by Kai Havertz to Arsenal? Have you spent a year mocking Chelsea only to find out Arsenal are signing one of their players? Are you looking for any kind of logic that will make this deal make sense? Well, here, you get to read how the deal makes sense.

Arsenal are set to complete the signing of Kai Havertz from Chelsea for a reported fee of 65 million pounds. This will make it the second time in six months that the club have signed a player from Chelsea.

The move has gotten a lot of people speaking, with opinions clearly polarized as to why Arsenal are buying a player who has struggled to make an impact for Chelsea since signing for the club from Bayer Leverkusen with his stock held very high.

Does it make sense? Is Mikel Arteta going to be the manager who revives his career the way he is credited with reviving Martin Odegaard’s? Why are Arsenal not signing a direct Granit Xhaka replacement like Moises Caicedo?

These are the questions on many fans' lips. Let me be honest. Even I did not understand why Arsenal are signing him, when there were more sensible options from within that Chelseas quad, including Mason Mount. But after reading and watching alot, I finally made sense of the deal.

You can say that Havertz is washed, or that I do not know ball, all that stuff, but I think that Mikel Arteta knows football more than you who is reading this, or I who has just written this. Just maybe.

However, since 2021, Arsenal have barely got it wrong in the transfer market. The whole fanbase was divided over the signings of the likes of Martin Odegaard, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Nuno Tavarez and Sambi Lokonga (the latter two however, have flattered to deceive in an Arsenal shirt) .

 The first three signings however, have proven value for money, so why not give the club the benefit of doubt with the signing of Havertz?

First of all, fans assume that the dynamics of teams from last season will be the same as the dynamics from the next season. Case in point. When Arsenal signed Olexsandr Zinchenko from Manchester City, people assumed that he would be “back up to Kieran Tierney” who was doing well in an orthodox role where he overlapped Emile Smith Rowe on the left flank.

Who foresaw Arteta using him as an inverted wing back? Who foresaw Tierney becoming surplus to requirements? After all, is Tierney not the same name fans chant in the famous “We’ve got super Mik Arteta” song?

The song goes on to praise Kieran Tierney, saying the Scotsman, alongside Gabi (Martinelli) in attack will help Arsenal win the league. Well,Tierney only started six times in the league last season.

That Tierney situation is proof Mikel Arteta may change things next season. Just because the team was set up a certain way last season does not mean it will be set up the same way next season.

Back to Havertz. Fans may be assuming that Kai Havertz is coming directly to fill the Granit Xhaka or Gabriel Jesus role given he has played as a false nine for much of his Chelsea career which may not be the case.

Thomas Tuchel said he was still not sure what he really was, preferring to describe him as a mixture of  Dennis Bergkamp, Robin Van Persie and Dimitar Berbatov. These are three very contrasting profiles of players.

However, Havertz is known to have an exquisite first touch which makes him very technical, so you can understand the comparisons to Bergkamp and Berbatov. He can operate in those half spaces, especially the right wing where he can use his left foot to look for passes or create goal scoring opportunities.

During his last season at Bayer Leverkusen, he was particularly adept at creating overloads on the left flank as the heatmap below suggests. He had a knack for preferring operating in that right half space by creating overloads either as a false nine, as shadow striker (alongside a striker) or a right sided attacking midfielder.

Maybe Mikel Arteta is planning to use him the way he was used at Leverkusen, where he played as the shadow striker who moved into channels due to his excellent ability to “investigate space) alongside Kevin Volland.

We might see a situation where he is played on the tip of a diamond midfield four in a 3-4-3 formation, with the German operating behind Gabriel Jesus and trying to create overloads with Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka on the right side of Arsenal’s attack, while Jesus and Martinelli continuing to operate by interchanging positions on the left hand side like they did last season.

We may then witness Zinchenko continuing to invert from left back (maybe even Emile Smith Rowe could be used there in certain game states with Declan Rice being the deepest member of that midfield four.

The signing of Rice would also be interesting considering he has played centre back before, so he could be Arsenal’s version of John Stones, who is essentially a midfielder in possession and a centre back without possession. That would imply that Arteta may use a back three of Jakub Kiwior or Gabriel as a left sided defender, William Saliba in the middle and one of Jurrien Timber(assuming he is signed) and Benjamin White on the right.

Another reason for signing Havertz may purely be for depth. Modern football is more about “minutes” rather than “starting”. Arsenal’s biggest achilles heel was a lack of depth last season. What if Havertz will help solve that situation once and for all?

A third reason is that Havertz may be the plan B option for our attack. He is a tall guy, 6’ 3” who can receive areal balls when Arsenal are trying to beat low blocks. For a team that wants to be more dominant physically and areally, Havertz could be the solution. Although Arsenal may still need a striker like Ivan Toney, Havertz could be a short term solution.

Havertz also does not have a biasness to turn to the left despite being left footed, like Odegaard does, He can receive from any position on the pitch and then turn with it.

Finally, people may assume he does not apply himself enough off the ball. I promise you, this guy has more impressive workrate than you think. He works hard off the ball. He may have some deficiencies especially with his tackling, but in a proper structure and with the right coaching, he may be more effective.

I am not saying that he is my ideal signing. I am just saying he has qualities that could be useful. This idea of people saying h “he is washed” is something I am not taking one bit. Mikel has proven he can get the best out of young players, like Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli and even his work with Jesus and Sane at City. I am sure he can do the same with Havertz.