Kai Havertz explained his newly found fondness for playing as an unconventional striker in Chelsea’s attack.
In an interview with CBS Sports, Havertz detailed his experiences of featuring as a ‘false nine’ for the Blues this season.
Lets be Frank
One of the biggest issues surrounding the 21-year-old’s debut Chelsea campaign was trying to work out his best position.
Frank Lampard trialed him as an attacking midfielder, off to the right of a front four or a part of a midfield trio.
Nothing seemed to click for Havertz and he had the statistics to show for it.
In the 16 Premier League games he played under Lampard, the German managed just one goal and two assists.
But things changed following Thomas Tuchel’s arrival.
He set about implementing Havertz as a centre-forward, one that could break lines as well as link the play.
Although the goal contributions didn’t vastly improve- three goals and two assists in 11 league matches- his performances did pick up.
Havertz has found his mojo
Now coming to the end of his first term with Chelsea, Havertz has uncovered fresh confidence in his unorthodox role.
“I used to play it sometimes at (Bayer) Leverkusen as well,” he said.
“I’m not like the real number nine, I’m just like something in between.
“That suits me very well, I feel very confident there and the last few matches were good.
“I hope I continue playing like this. Maybe it’s harder for defenders that I don’t make the runs they’re used to.”
Champions League dilemmas
Havertz fulfilled the job very convincingly during the Champions League semi-final victory over Real Madrid.
His presence and general play were a pest to the Madrid defenders, especially Sergio Ramos, who seemed to age as the night progressed.
Tuchel will have a big call to make heading into Saturday’s showdown with Manchester City about his fellow German.
Pep Guardiola has championed the ‘false nine’ this year, partly due to Sergio Aguero’s injury problems. He could easily field a side without a traditional centre-forward on the weekend.
Does Tuchel go like-for-like by using Havertz in a similar vein, or go for a more obvious option in Timo Werner?
Whatever the decision, be sure Guardiola will have a solution for every scenario.