Kai Havertz’s “talent is unquestionable”, according to ex-Chelsea star Joe Cole, who thinks the £70 million ($97m) midfielder has been subjected to a lot of unfair criticism at the start of his Stamford Bridge career.
Havertz became the second most expensive signing in Chelsea’s history behind Kepa Arrizabalaga when he joined the club from Bayer Leverkusen on a five-year contract at the start of September.
The Blues saw off competition from the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to bring in a man who has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence over the last couple of seasons, and he was handed his debut by Frank Lampard in a Premier League opener against Brighton.
Unfortunately, the 21-year-old struggled to make an impact during the 3-1 victory, which marked the beginning of difficult settling in period which has extended through to the start of the festive season.
Havertz has contributed four goals and four assists to Chelsea’s cause in his first 15 games in all competitions, but questions have been asked over his physicality and fitness levels as he has largely failed to live up to his hefty price tag.
The Germany international did, however, put in arguably his best performance for the Blues to date during a 1-1 draw at home to Krasnodar in the Champions League on Tuesday night, and Cole is confident he will soon begin to deliver the goods on a more consistent basis.
“No, it’s not been fair (the criticism) because when you do go into a different culture, with different team-mates, different style of play and different training, it can be tough,” the former Chelsea winger told BT Sport of Havertz’s potential.
“But the talent is unquestionable. He’s widely regarded as one of the best young players in Europe.
“He’s had his injury difficulties, he had the [corona]virus that set him back, but my feeling is that the cream will always rise to the top and he’s a top, top player.
“We’ve seen it in flashes and as the season moves on, that will get more and more consistent.
“I think he’s struggled a little bit with how well Werner has settled in. Two German lads coming in, obviously it helps, but he’s (Werner) settled in.
“They’ve come from different clubs, different environments and different demands in training, so Werner has settled in quicker, but Havertz will be a big player, I’m convinced of that. As the season goes on, he will impact games.”
Havertz admits that his early performances in a Chelsea shirt have fallen short of his usual high standards, but the ex-Leverkusen playmaker is happy with how he is developing under Lampard’s stewardship.
“I am feeling very good,” he told reporters after the Krasnodar clash. “The start (of the season) was not my best but I am very thankful to be here and I give every day my best to try to help the team.
“And of course, I know that Frank Lampard is a big manager for me. I can learn from him. He is helping me day-by-day and I am very thankful for that.”
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