Last year, Thomas Tuchel demanded more from Chelsea star Kai Havertz, and his successor Graham Potter may be on the cusp of having a similar conversation with the forward. The German international has been uninfluential recently and could find himself benched if he does not improve.
Havertz was a key player for the Blues last season, playing as a No 9 after Romelu Lukaku’s homecoming proved to be incredibly underwhelming. The former Bayer Leverkusen led the line well and his willingness to drift across the frontline was a valuable asset.
However, the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on deadline day means that Havertz has been shifted back into his more natural No 10 role – though with limited success. The 23-year-old was disappointing once again on Wednesday night against Brentford, being replaced in the 81st minute by Aubameyang, who made more of an impact in his cameo than Havertz did throughout the match.
Though the playmaker’s poor form hasn’t emerged since Potter’s arrival, Tuchel publicly called for improvement from the midfielder previously before he was moved into a striker role. He said: “We want more from Kai, more from what he can deliver because he is full of talent. Nobody is angry with him. But once you play for Chelsea we want to have the best out of you.”
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Potter has shown already since entering the Stamford Bridge dugout that he is willing to take risks, playing Raheem Sterling in right wing-back and making Kepa his favoured goalkeeper, and dropping Havertz is no exception. He has Carney Chukwuemeka, Conor Gallagher and Christian Pulisic all desperate for opportunities, as well as Sterling and Mason Mount trying to stake their claim as to why they should start for England at the Qatar World Cup.
Havertz has scored once in all competitions since Potter’s arrival, a disappointing return given the more attacking style of play being implemented at the club. And reports that the Blues are keen to bolster their forward ranks over the January transfer news could be bad news for the German.
Chelsea have been linked with AC Milan star Rafael Leao, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Leandro Trossard of Brighton, who all could be deployed in the wide attacking midfielder role. Additionally, the progress of Armando Broja mixed with Potter’s willingness to speak with Lukaku could mean that he falls down the pecking order as a striker backup option too.
Havertz has displayed immense potential previously and his future at Chelsea is certainly not in jeopardy, though he could find himself battling for a place in the starting eleven at the club for the first time in his career if he does not improve, just as Tuchel demanded him to do.