Welcome To FPL: Kai Havertz

Chelsea’s season of big spending continues and their wealth of attacking FPL options bolsters, as they land the highly-rated Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga.

The subject of many transfer rumours over the past couple of seasons, this looks to be a real statement of intent from Manager Frank Lampard as he makes his third high profile attacking signing this summer. 

Having been such an influential player from such a young age, how will he adapt to life at Chelsea and should he be strongly considered as an FPL asset this season?

Role at Bayer Leverkusen

Kai Havertz came through the Leverkusen academy to become the club’s youngest ever debutant in 2016 and has featured regularly in the side ever since. Aged just 21, he has already made 118 career league appearances for the Bundesliga club, contributing 36 goals and 22 assists. 

Deployed primarily as a central attacking midfielder, Havertz netted 12 league goals last season and provided 6 assists. He was also impressive in the Europa League, scoring 4 goals from 5 starts.

His season heatmap (below) shows his impact is very much biased towards the right hand side of the pitch, while also being frequently involved in the attacking penalty area.

Kai Havertz Bundersliga heatmap 2019-20 (Sofascore.com)

The 2018-19 season was huge for Havertz as he scored 17 leagues goals in 34 appearances, outscoring his xG (expected goals) by 5.01 that season.

While his goal output was lower in the 2019-20 season (12 from 30), there was a significant improvement in his playmaking ability. Havertz managed to double his KP90 (key passes per 90 minutes) from 1.08 to 2.12, which also saw his assists tally double from 3 to 6.

Kai Havertz league goal locations 2018-19 & 2019-20 (Understat.com)

Over the past two seasons Havertz has netted 29 league goals, but only one has been from outside the area. This highlights that, even though he sees plenty of the ball outside the box, he is a major goal threat when he does arrive into the area.

He can also be considered unlucky when creating for the others in the box; his team-mates converted just 5 of his 9.02 xA (expected assists) since 2018. 

Another dynamic to Havertz’ game that makes him difficult to play against is his use of both feet.

Throughout his career, he has scored the majority of his goals (25/36) with his left foot. This makes sense given his heatmap features heavily on the right side of the pitch where he can cut inside the box however, he has played more key passes with his right foot than left (66 v 59), making it incredibly hard to anticipate his creative path.

To cap it off, Havertz is a tall player at 188cm and uses it to his advantage. He has scored 6 headed goals (17%) and has even provided 5 assists. If only Chelsea signed a striker who could benefit from a few flick-ons!

What can Havertz offer Chelsea?

Kai Havertz joins a Chelsea side very much rebuilding following a season of transition and restriction under Frank Lampard.

Faith was shown in several players developed by the club as they secured an impressive top four finish, but already the squad has been heavily strengthened in the forward areas following the arrivals of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

Kai Havertz career stats by position (Understat.com)

In a nutshell, what Havertz will offer this Chelsea side is quality and versatility.

You can see already in his short career how many positions he has been utilised in, and how well he performs in each role. Clearly his most effective position is AMC, where he has contributed 20 attacking returns in 46 appearances, but has still gained valuable experience in other key attacking positions.

It would be lazy to assume that Havertz will simply slot in behind Werner with Pulisic and Ziyech on either flank at Chelsea.

Firstly, that would involve breaking a mould which was so successful for Lampard last season. It seems likely that Chelsea will want to bed in the new signings without making wholesale changes to the plan; this could easily cause another sluggish start as the entire squad learn a new system.

Comparison of Havertz & Mason Mount in AMC position 2019-20 (Understat.com)

Secondly, it seems most likely that Havertz will be competing with Mount for the AMC position this season, given both perform at their best in that role.

Based solely on their output in AMC last season, it is clear that Havertz offered more than Mount both in build up play and chances created. His xA90 (expected assists per 90 minutes) of 0.29 will be much more appealing than Mount’s 0.16 in a side with so much attacking quality this season.

Lampard will also see some of himself in Havertz with his desire to arrive in the box to finish chances. It remains to be seen whether that will be from a central or wider area to begin with, but there’s no doubt he will seriously improve the Chelsea starting eleven wherever he plays.

Should Havertz be Considered in FPL?

At this point, his price is still unknown which makes it difficult to say exactly how viable he will be as an FPL asset, particularly early on in the season.

My guess would be that he comes in at £8-8.5m, likely £8.5m, given that 12 goals and 6 assists = more points than the 6 goals and 12 assists Ziyech got last season.

Add in that the Bundesliga is a higher standard of league than the Eredevisie, I’d be very surprised to see the powers that be at FPL price Havertz the same as Ziyech.

It is also uncertain exactly where he will play in the opening weeks of the season. Lampard clearly likes Mount and, although Havertz looks the better option at AMC, he may be deployed elsewhere to begin with.

That said, another aspect to consider is that Havertz massively underperformed on his xA at Leverkusen, but created plenty of chances.

This suggests that he could have ended up with more assists last season had his team mates been more clinical in front of goal. Looking at the Chelsea attacking unit, Havertz could end up with some very impressive numbers both in terms of goals and assists this season.

He may not be one to jump on immediately, but there’s no doubt once he settles into the Premier League, and finds his place in the Chelsea side, he will be a must-own asset at some point this season!

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