Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz has won the Bundesliga's May Player of the Month prize. The award, created by the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga in cooperation with the Bundesliga’s official licensing partner, EA SPORTS FIFA 19, is decided through a two-stage selection process that considers both the players' individual performance data and a vote by fans and experts.
Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Given Leverkusen's breathtaking end to the Bundesliga season, it is no surprise to that Havertz came out on top of the vote. When Bundesliga legend Lothar Matthäus calls you a talent of the century, then you really must have had a good season, and Kai Havertz earned that glowing report even before the 19-year-old scored the first goal in each of Leverkusen's final three games of the season. The league's Player of the Month for April ended the season with a remarkable 17 goals – more than any teenager in the history of the Bundesliga.
It was not just his goals which earned Havertz such rave reviews, however. The shooting star combined his finishing abilities with the creativity which has earned him comparisons with Michael Ballack. Exuding comfort on the ball, Havertz boasts a mature vision and awareness of the game and ability to play that telling pass, and he is not afraid to be the one who assumes responsibility either, in spite of his precocity. For example, Havertz is Leverkusen's regular penalty taker, although all of his goals in May were from open play, and paved the way for Leverkusen to land in the Champions League next season.
The other candidates
David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
Bayern Munich burst through with the finish line in sight to secure a seventh straight Bundesliga title, thanks in no small way to the efforts of defender David Alaba. "Every week, you've got to put in your best performance and pick up wins," said the Austrian, who placed the cherry atop his own purple patch in his side's 5-1 title-clinching win over Eintracht Frankfurt. His place on the left-hand side of the record champions' defence is as solid as Bayern's place is at the summit of German football. His speed and reading of the game ensure the 26-year-old regularly reaches the ball before his opponent, even if he's just raced forward to support an attack. Indeed, his support at both ends of the field is priceless.
You only need to look at his contribution in Bayern's final-day victory over Frankfurt to see Alaba at his sumptuous best. His goal to make it 2-1 put the Bavarians on course for the title before he teed up Arjen Robben for Bayern's fifth. It was the first time since 2014 that the Austrian played a direct hand in two goals, although the first recovery or pass on the way to many more goals have come from the Austrian's feet. "The way he's been playing lately is incredible," said his team-mate and close friend Franck Ribery. "For me, David's one of the best footballers on his side of the field."
Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen)
As the season reached its dramatic finale, Alario had a major hand in Bayer Leverkusen getting their nose in front in the race for UEFA Champions League football at precisely the right moment. His hat-trick in their final-day 5-1 win at Hertha Berlin took Die Werkself into the top four for the first time all season, on the very last day and with the very last kicks of the campaign. That also took his tally to five goals in the month of May, making him the Bundesliga's top goalscorer this month. His hat-trick in the capital was also his first in German football, although he had hit a Bundesliga brace before.
One of those came in what turned out to be a decisive and resounding 6-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt. "I want to give everything I've got for this team and I'm really happy here," said the 26-year-old at the culmination of a remarkable rise from ninth to fourth, with five wins from their final six games of the season. Indeed, Leverkusen were ten points behind Frankfurt when Peter Bosz brought in his brand of attack-minded football which suited not only Alario down to the ground, producing twelve goals in May, five of which were steered in by the Argentinian.
Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Another Leverkusen player to benefit from a change in direction during the second half of the season, which saw only Bayern and RB Leipzig pick up more points, was Charles Aranguiz. The midfielder supplied three assists in a remarkable run of results which included a 6-1 win over Frankfurt, 5-1 triumph in Berlin and a draw with Schalke. No player set up more goals in the Bundesliga in May, but more than just that the 30-year-old provided a defensive stability which was extremely important in balancing out an otherwise lethal attacking approach under Bosz. All told, Aranguiz set up 11 shooting opportunities in the month of May.
"Every game in the Bundesliga is tough," said Aranguiz. "You've always got to be 100 per cent ready." He was clearly following his own advice in May, which also included a goal in the win over Frankfurt and the second most phases of possession (351), just behind team-mate Wendell. Averaging almost seven and a half miles per game, he also shone by winning over 52 per cent of his tackles. "It's been a positive season for me," said the Chiliean, who crowned it all off with a marvellous May.
Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
Kimmich has developed a reputation for being Bayern's Mr Reliable and the Germany international showed exactly why in the club's full-throttle season finale. The 24-year-old delivered a league-high 16 shots in the month of May, two of which led to goals. The right full-back, who is equally happy at the heart of the midfield, also delivered the most crosses of any Bayern player (12) and was the man with the most touches of the ball (311) for the record champions in the final month of the season.
The former VfB Stuttgart and RB Leipzig player also underlined his importance to Bayern coach Niko Kovac by not missing a single minute of their Bundesliga campaign, and his reputation also glows among his team-mates. "We often talk about our games and also about my performances, and he's not afraid to tell me what he thinks," said Serge Gnabry. "Jo's one of those incredibly focused people who always gives 200 per cent. Sometimes I have to tell him 'drop down a gear, lad!', but that's just the way he is, and it's good that he's that way because that's how he's got so far."
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Pulisic bowed out of the Bundesliga in style, rediscovering some of his best form for his final days at Dortmund prior to a transfer to Chelsea this summer. The USMNT forward played the entirety of all three of the Westphalians' final fixtures of the season, and he was involved in a goal each time, scoring two and setting up another. In Dortmund's final three games, Pulisic had the most shots (10) and also set up the most goalscoring opportunities (11) of any Dortmund player.
His final home game in a Dortmund shirt was a particularly successful outing, with the opening goal against Fortuna Düsseldorf – his one and only headed goal in Germany's top flight. Before that, though, he had kept a level head in thanking the club's fans for their support during his five years there. "I wouldn't be here today without you," he said. "Thanks for five amazing years. Dortmund will always feel like home to me." The 20-year-old's final month there was perhaps emblematic of all his time spent in Germany. "Christian showed what a heart and what quality he's got," said the club's sporting director Michael Zorc.
Kai Havertz (April 2019)
Max Kruse (March 2019)
Julian Brandt (February 2019)
Leon Goretkza (January 2019)
Marco Reus (December 2018)
Marco Reus (November 2018)
Jadon Sancho (October 2018)
Marco Reus (September 2018)
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