Chelsea desperately need defensive reinforcements, that much is clear. However, if they can sign Kai Havertz that must be the priority above all else.
Serious talk of the Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder moving to west London has ramped up recently, with the 21-year-old tipped to join the likes of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech in an exciting summer of upgrades at Stamford Bridge.
For Chelsea fans, it’s hard not to be excited. Havertz has had another terrific season in the Bundesliga and at just 21 is showing glimpses of being a generational talent.
It is evident though that Chelsea need new defenders and a new goalkeeper.
During Chelsea’s 5-3 loss to Liverpool, the xG of the two teams was Liverpool 1.45-2.38 Chelsea, yet the London side still conceded five goals.
Admittedly two of Liverpool’s goals were wonder strikes from Naby Keita and Trent Alexander-Arnold, but the other three goals Chelsea conceded were largely down to poor defending and/or goalkeeping.
Chelsea’s goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, in particular, has received a lot of criticism this season as he continues to struggle between the sticks.
Of the 25 goalkeepers to have played a minimum of five games in the Premier League, the Spaniard ranks 25th for ‘saves per 90 minutes’ and ‘save percentage from outside the box’, while also ranking 24th for ‘overall save percentage’ and ‘save percentage from inside the box’. His expected goals against is at -9.2 – the worst in Europe’s ‘big five’ divisions.
In short, he has had a woeful season.
Meanwhile the defence – who look increasingly uncomfortable at having to play in front of Kepa – have had their own issues which cannot be solely palmed off on Kepa. The Blues have conceded more goals than the likes of Brighton and Crystal Palace and have kept fewer clean sheets than Watford and Southampton.
Lampard has struggled to settle on a first-choice back line and this has cost his side from achieving the kind of consistency that would’ve seen their Champions League qualification wrapped up weeks ago.
Chelsea are a mess defensively; so naturally their first two signings of the upcoming transfer window have been an attacking midfielder and a striker.
Sill, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, represent two very astute pieces of business. Regardless of all the logic screaming at Chelsea to go out and fix their defence, they must put that seemingly urgent need on the back-burner, in order to ensure they don’t miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity in Havertz.
21-year-old Havertz has taken the Bundesliga by storm this season since his debut in 2016/17, scoring 29 times across the last two campaigns.
Generally an attacking midfielder, he has been devastating when picking the ball up in between the midfield and defence, and driving at the opposition’s back line.
However, since the return of football in Germany, Havertz has been fantastic playing upfront. He scored four in the first two games back against Werder Bremen and Borussia Monchengladbach, leaving many to suggest his future may even be as a number nine, rather than as a traditional number 10.
So, if Havertz is a striker in the making, then why are Chelsea so keen on signing him, having just spent north of £50m on Werner?
Lampard could mould his front four exactly how he wants them. Havertz can play both up top and behind the striker, while Werner has the versatility to play on the left. Ziyech is just as comfortable on the right of midfield as he is in the number 10 role, whilst Pulisic can play on the left, right or even through the middle. Chelsea’s attack could be very fluid indeed, with all four of their main men capable of rotating – with potentially devastating consequences.
Signing a world-class talent like Havertz would not only give Chelsea a number of options at the top end of the pitch, but it would mean that their attacking lineup could be sorted for the next five years -at least.
It is rare that a club gets such a good opportunity to sign such a talented player without any real competition too. Havertz would ordinarily be courted by Real Madrid and Barcelona among others, but, financially, these clubs cannot strike a deal for the 21-year old.
Bayern Munich, meanwhile, have just spent big on Leroy Sane, Man City already seem well-stocked in Havertz’s preferred positions and neither Juventus nor Liverpool have the cash right now in the financially impacted era of coronavirus.
Chelsea, then, basically have a free hit at a player on the edge of superstardom, without having to fight for his signature.
The likelihood is that, were Chelsea to put off signing Havertz for another year, those other teams who can’t necessarily afford him now, will definitely be in for him next year. Chelsea cannot miss this opportunity.
Having spent heavily already this summer, Chelsea probably only have one or two signings left in them, one of which looks very likely to be Havertz.
No-one would argue that Chelsea’s backline needs improving, but when the chance to sign a player like Havertz presents itself, the case for the defence can wait.