There’s no doubt that Kai Havertz is one of the best talents in world football right now. At the age of 20, the German has a bunch of huge clubs behind him. Bayer Leverkusen have known it all along that they have a player on their hands.

Not everyone can make their senior debut at the age of 17. Not for a club as big as Leverkusen. Havertz did that in the 2016-17 campaign, also playing in the UEFA Champions League at that very age that season.

Since then, the German has grown leaps and bounds. At the age of 20 now, Havertz has 120 first-team games under his belt. He has contributed to 54 goals during this time- a number than is exceptional.

Recent reports from BILD have said that as many as seven big clubs are keeping their eyes on Havertz. This includes Real Madrid and the Los Blancos fans would be licking their lips at the news. Who doesn’t like a 20-year-old who is setting the league on fire?

This season, Havertz has contributed to four goals in 16 appearances in all competitions. It isn’t a big number. But Leverkusen boss Peter Bosz has been experimenting with formations this season. It was a 4-3-3 last season, with Julian Brandt and Havertz as the two central midfielders.

It was last season that told a lot about Havertz. After Bosz’s arrival, he played as the central midfielder many times. In a possession-based system, he got a lot of time and space on the ball. He had acres of spaces and four-five men to pick out.

At the turn of the year, he made 12 contributions to goals. He also played in his preferred number ten position and as a right-winger, where he cuts inside with pace. The season was proof of his versatility and the wide range of abilities he has.

The only player of that type that Real have is Isco. Or maybe even James Rodriguez. Both can as inverted wingers. They prefer playing in the number ten position but have shown versatility when required.

In Real’s recent 2-2 draw against PSG, Isco started in a very familiar role. Zinedine Zidane used him as the sole attacking midfielder in a 4-3-1-2. It is similar to how the Spaniard would play in Real’s march to three Champions League trophies.

Any attacking midfielder would love to play in front of a player like Casemiro. The Brazilian has won 3.8 tackles per game, winning 2.3 interceptions per game too. Both of them rank the highest in La Liga. The freedom an attacking player gets because of him helps him so much.

Casemiro indeed was key to Real winning the La Liga once and winning three European crowns. A player like Havertz would not have to worry much about doing the dirty work when playing beside him.

This season, Havertz has played 2.3 key passes per game, completing 2.1 dribbles per game. It shows how decisive he is in the final third. This is an improvement from last season, when he played only one key pass per game, completing 1.4 dribbles per game only.

Bosz’s key role was to get the most out of a creative player like him. The improvements are very much visible. Havertz is hitting numbers he had never hit before. They are more than Isco ever hit when he was thriving before last season.

In a recent interview, Germany boss Joachim Loew spoke highly of Havertz.

He said (BuliNews via DFB): “He has continued to develop with us over the past few months and has taken a few steps forward. He did very well against Argentina. I feel he has improved with us. He’s a very promising player who can always give us good impulses.”

And Havertz is still 20. Bosz’s possession system has given him more time on the ball. Isco was given similar treatment at Real before the 2017-18 season, as Zidane got the best out of him. In a fluid front three of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, he had world-class runners in front of him.

Isco’s productivity could reach a world-class level too, considering where it is. If there’s anyone who can take it there, it could well be Zinedine Zidane. Especially with the future of Isco and James in doubt.

 

 

 

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Kaustubh Pandey

European Football Writer. Featured on Calciomercato, FootballItalia, GetGermanFootballNews, GetFrenchFootballNews, Manchester Evening News, TheseFootballTimes, The Times, Manchester United and more.
Kaustubh Pandey