Liverpool’s tendency to sign players from the countries close to Germany has become a habit. Takumi Minamino was an example and so was Naby Keita. The latest player to come from Germany to Anfield could be Kai Havertz, but there is every chance Liverpool have reservations about him. It’s like they have a free phone tracker on all the best talents in the Bundesliga.
There is no doubt that Havertz is one of the best talents in German football today. His numbers might not be too prolific this season, but they certainly were very good last season.
This season, he has contributed to six goals in 16 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen. His progress has been hindered by injuries, but Havertz has taken some criticism for his performances. That wasn’t the case last season though, as Peter Bosz had brought the best out of his abilities.
Bosz was appointed as the Die Werkself manager at the turn of the year. Entasked with the job of unlocking the talents of underperforming players under Heiko Herrlich, he set up his side in a 4-3-3. Always known for a very attacking brand of football, he curiously placed Havertz and Julian Brandt in central midfield positions in front of Charles Aranguiz.
In a system that thrives on keeping hold of the ball and constantly attacking, both Havertz and Brandt became the chief creators in the second half of the season. In the second half of the season, Havertz contributed to 12 goals- an improvement on the nine from the first half of the campaign.
The shape saw Brandt and Havertz use their technical ability to immense effect. They had lots of the ball and many players to pick out in front of them. They had a huge amount of space in front of them and that helped both of them.
Under Bosz himself, this season has been a bit of a transition. Despite the 4-3-3 taking Leverkusen to Champions League football last season, it was prone to leaking goals. To add more pragmatism, Leverkusen have been using a 4-2-3-1 more often this season.
This has led to Havertz having to constantly change his position from being the central midfielder and attacking midfielder to a right-winger.
And that will ring bells for Liverpool. To get the best out of Havertz, a team needs to give him the ball as much as possible in the centre of the park. At Liverpool, the two central midfielders in Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum have to work their socks off. They are the engines of the team and grind things out by doing the dirty work.
For a player like Havertz, that may not be a feasible thing to do. That leaves the right-wing slot in the Reds’ side open.
But having said that, Mohamed Salah is still going strong. He is almost a shot monster. He doesn’t get involved in play too much. He has taken 3.9 shots per game in the Premier League this season- the highest in the division. This leads to a higher goal output and a higher chance of him scoring.
While it works to his benefit, it might not for Havertz. He isn’t as quick as Salah and is more technical than being a shot-monster. And for a player who is being targetted by a host of big clubs like Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Manchester City, Liverpool will have to spend big.
But with Salah the regular on that right side, a club like Liverpool will not like to pay huge money for an expensive upcoming superstar. They’re known to be a team that thrives on advanced data analysis and they don’t spend big on players unless there’s a screaming need for that player. They did spend big on Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson because they had a desperate need in those positions.
As things stand, there is no screaming need for Havertz. If they need a player like him, it could be an older player who might not demand as much first-team football and won’t cost as much as Havertz. In that sense, not signing Havertz will be a very smart move.
More so, this is a player who has had only one exceptional season. It isn’t a lot like Jadon Sancho, who has torn defences apart on a regular basis. It could easily be that Havertz may not be worth the effort and money for Klopp’s men at all.