Bayer Leverkusen’s reconstruction under Heiko Herrlich, which took them from 12th in 2016/17 to fifth last season, relied heavily on the exploits of their latest academy prodigy. Kai Havertz is ready to take the final step from young German promise to absolute Bundesliga star at the BayArena.
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Country: Germany (eight U-19 caps)
Shirt number: 29
Although Havertz boasts a 6’2” frame, he is quite technical and fast, achieving a top speed of 21.4 mph last season. Although his main role is generating plays for his teammates, his height is a decisive asset for the squad, as evidenced by his 188 aerial duels last season, 86 of them won. This makes him the third-most dominant player in the air in the Leverkusen squad only behind centre-backs Jonathan Tah and Sven Bender. When it comes to creating attacking moves, he boasts an 86,13% pass success rate which makes him the most reliable offensive player in the team. These numbers make it even clearer why he’s managed to rack up seven goals and 15 assists in 54 Bundesliga games.
Watch: Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt do the Fortnite chop.
Plays a bit like: Michael Ballack
Attacking midfielders, especially nowadays, tend to be shorter in stature. Havertz defies this convention with his flair and agility in a way reminiscent of Germany and Bundesliga legend Michael Ballack. The young Leverkusen starlet remains uncapped for his country, a matter that should solve itself sooner rather than later. Whether he can follow in the footsteps of one of Die Mannschaft’s most influential captains remains open, but the odds of a new towering genius pulling the strings in a Germany jersey in the near future are not bad at all.
Did you know?
Havertz became Leverkusen’s youngest player ever upon his debut on Matchday 7 of the 2016/17 season against Werder Bremen. Aged 17, the young midfielder’s average week throughout the campaign involved playing professional football at the most elite level on Saturday or Sunday and going back to school on Monday. Towards the tail end of the season, he was forced to miss a UEFA Champions League match against Atletico Madrid and a Bundesliga clash against Schalke in order to complete his exams. Havertz went into that summer with his high school diploma, the Player of the Season award from the Leverkusen fans and a cornerstone role at Die Werkself under his arm.
What they're saying
"I've always been brought up to keep my feet on the ground. I learned from my parents that arrogance and snootiness are not desirable qualities. Why should a footballer be any different to anybody else? We're normal guys, just like most people. Besides, I haven't achieved anything yet. Football is about winning titles, and I haven't done that since turning pro." - Havertz
"What he brings to the pitch in terms of playmaking, technique and mentality is tremendous. He’s so talented and has the right stuff to become a world star. He will make his own path." - Leverkusen midfielder Julian Brandt