Kai Havertz has endured his fair share of highs and lows but, on his return to his new home, the 22-year-old is primed to down England.
The past 10 months have been a whirlwind for the Chelsea star. Bogged down by his mammoth £89million fee, it has been a case of sink or swim for the former Bayer Leverkusen star once targeted by Europe’s biggest clubs as a youngster.
The brutal reality is that in modern football time is not afforded to players to settle and Havertz had been harshly dubbed as a mega-money flop mere weeks into his new life in London.
Kai Havertz is primed to down England on his return to London with Germany later today
But the circumstances behind Havertz’s slow start at Chelsea have been unjustly overlooked. Signed in September, the German attacker was not given the benefit of a full pre-season with his new squad and struggled to adapt to the pace and intensity of the Premier League as a result.
‘To be honest, it’s very tough. It’s a big change,’ Havertz told Sky Sports. ‘It’s very hard because you play every three days and the intensity here is much more than in Germany, to be honest.’
Although he hadn’t made a lightning start with his new club, a goal and two assists from his first seven games signalled potential to flourish in the Premier League.
The 22-year-old has endured a rollercoaster debut season since arriving at Chelsea for £89m
Havertz got off to a slow start after being struck down by a case of long Covid in the autumn
However, in the autumn, Havertz was struck down by a case of long Covid and his adaptation to English football suffered a heavy setback as a result. He started just three of 11 league games after testing positive and admitted that his return to training served as a shock to the system.
‘The illness hit me hard,’ Havertz reflected via Chelsea’s official website.
‘It lasted some four to five weeks before I could even think of getting back on to a football pitch. During the time I was ill, I was quite ill, to be honest. And I wish it upon absolutely no one.
‘Then the aftermath was difficult, too. I really had to work hard to get back to the pre-Covid fitness levels. You have to live with it.’
He also struggled to adapt to life in London and had countryman Timo Werner to help him
Havertz and girlfriend Sophie Weber (L) have settled in leafy Wimbledon and enjoy walks
The young couple take dog Baloo for walks on Wimbledon Common and have settled
The difficulties in adapting to a new culture are often disregarded but it is fair to say that the 22-year-old had struggled to settle to life in England.
Come the turn of the year, Havertz began to find his feet in west London and has steadily grown accustomed to his new surroundings.
Havertz has spoken of the importance of having German team-mate Timo Werner to help keep his spirits high as the pair settle in London in the midst of a global pandemic where exploring the new city has proved difficult.
‘Of course it’s a big change for us but for me it always felt good to have Timo next to me because we can talk to each other,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘We were both in very difficult situations. He was also unlucky this season. But I think right now, for two or three months, we both play very well and I hope we can continue like that.
Havertz’s performances have improved thanks to the trust of new Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel
The 22-year-old is tactically adept and has shown steady progression since the turn of the year
‘When you come to London you want to live the life here but in the last few months, it was not possible. You always had to stay at home and things like that, so we didn’t experience much from the city.’
Slowly but surely, Havertz is exploring the capital. He has now set up home with his girlfriend Sophie Weber in Wimbledon and the young couple enjoy taking their dog, Baloo, on walks on Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park and Bushy Park, as reported by The Telegraph.
Finding some sort of balance off the pitch, coupled with the confidence instilled by new coach Thomas Tuchel, has inevitably seen Havertz’s confidence grow on it for Chelsea.
The 22-year-old was pivotal in Chelsea’s run to the Champions League final, in particular his display against Real Madrid in the semi-final second leg demonstrated a glimpse of the talent that convinced Blues chiefs to part ways with £89m for his signature.
But it was his performance in the Champions League final that encapsulated the attacker’s character.
Havertz became a Chelsea hero when he kept his cool to score in the Champions League final
The 22-year-old did not shrink under the pressure of a golden opportunity presented to him
Havertz said he did ‘not give a f***’ about his price tag after scoring the winning goal in Porto
Given the tumultuous campaign that he had endured, it would have been understandable, nay, expected, of Havertz to shrink under the seismic pressure that this golden opportunity presented when Mason Mount slid a defence-splitting ball in the German’s direction just before half-time.
Yet Havertz kept his cool to round the onrushing Ederson and slot the ball home to send the travelling Chelsea contingent into raptures in Porto, in what was the game’s only goal.
For all the criticism received, that display on the big stage was surely vindication for Havertz but as the Chelsea squad flaunted their new piece of silverware in Portugal, the German insisted that he was never concerned by his hefty price tag.
‘To be honest, I couldn’t give a f*** because we just won the f***ing Champions League!’ he said when asked whether his goal justified his transfer fee.
Havertz will forever be viewed as Chelsea’s Champions League hero but the 22-year-old’s aspirations extend further than glory with his club.
Now Havertz is bidding to add to his Champions League triumph with Germany this summer
He became the country’s youngest scorer at the Euros and is emblematic of the new era
The former Leverkusen star has made a strong start to his Euros campaign, scoring two goals in three games and is expected to start as Germany take on England at Wembley this evening.
He became his country’s youngest ever scorer when netting against Portugal and Havertz is emblematic of Germany’s current sea change in which the emphasis is placed on young players instead of the older generation who ruled the world seven years ago.
Joachim Low’s side enter Tuesday’s contest as rare underdogs, and Havertz is likely to spearhead the attack having ousted Chelsea team-mate Timo Werner to lead the line.
Havertz has the backing of Joachim Low to silence the Wembley crowd on Tuesday afternoon
Havertz has not only won the support of Low, but also his team-mates, particularly Thomas Muller whom has formed a good bond with the youngster on the pitch.
‘Thomas Müller is like a third assistant coach,’ Havertz said of the Bayern Munich star. ‘He helps out a lot of players and his communication on the pitch is really important. Playing with him is a lot of fun.’
Muller knows what it takes to beat England and will be looking to pass the baton to young Havertz as Germany bid to establish their dominance over England. Havertz has also been entrusted as the fifth penalty taker if the game is taken to dreaded spot-kicks.
A masterclass from Germany’s understated star in the capital would certainly fit the script.