Frank Lampard is working with Kai Havertz for the first time this week after the young German signed for Chelsea last Friday, and the boss has also given his first words on the new acquisition to the official Chelsea website.
Exciting is one word that has frequently been used to describe the addition of the 21-year-old to the squad and Lampard discusses that, but he is also keen to highlight the player’s personality and the fact he is still developing and needs some patience shown, although his potential is not in question.
First however, Lampard adds his name to those excited about the completed transfer.
‘Kai is a really exciting signing for myself and for the club first and foremost,’ he says.
‘He is a player I have been aware of for a long time and as a fellow attacking midfield player, I have paid particular attention to those type of players for some time. I was aware of his talent and in conjunction with the club, we know how we want to go forward and look to improve in the right areas, and for players who are going to be here hopefully to improve and mature, but are already at a very high level, he absolutely fitted the bill for us, so I am delighted to have him.’
A combination of Havertz’s goalscoring figures from midfield in recent seasons, his nationality and his height means that not only has he drawn comparisons with Lampard as a player, but also with another goalscoring former Blue, Michael Ballack. Lampard considers that…
‘It is very easy to make those comparisons,’ he says. ‘I know he is hungry to score goals and make assists so I have already had those conversations with him, but I do think we are quite different in our styles.
‘Kai can probably start in more forward areas than I started in. I liked to come from deep as a midfield player, and a lot of Kai’s really good play in the last few seasons as he has broken through at Leverkusen has been in a slightly advanced no.10 role, or slightly wider areas or more in a striker kind of area of late.
‘So I think there are differences in our game and styles but in terms of what we try to bring to the team, it is pretty similar in terms of productivity in goals and assists.
‘Michael Ballack was a a good player for us in terms of what he contributed and we have all got really good memories of Bally when he was at the club and what he did for us, but Kai is going to be his own player and his own person.
‘He has his own style and he is very unique in terms of that, which really excites me to work with him, in terms of him going forward.’
As well as having his own identity on the pitch, Havertz has impressive characteristics off it, as our manager explains…
‘On his personality, I have been absolutely overwhelmed with how humble and down to earth he is, and how well he wants to do here, and how he is very excited with the challenge. He wants to come here and be a top player for Chelsea, and really prove his talents on this stage.
‘That to me has been one of the most exciting things, not just to be excited about him arriving as a top talent, but to see his mentality as he has come in. That gives a really good feeling about how his career is going to be at Chelsea.’
In his first interview as a Chelsea player, Havertz said he believes Lampard can help him in his position as a player, especially with scoring goals. Lampard has views on whether the scoring of goals as an attacking midfielder can be coached or whether it is an instinct.
‘I think it is both. The ability to score and know the right areas to arrive into, which I have seen in Kai when I have watched him play, it can be quite a natural instinct but it is something that can be worked on and improved even more. The fact Kai comes in saying that he wants to improve in those areas is a great thing.
‘We also have to understand that he is a fantastic young talent but we must give him time to let him settle and let those talents come through. So I think we will see him give everything that we want him to give in terms of goals and assists, and hopefully those numbers will go up, but we also must give him time. But in terms of his talent I think we are in for having a really exciting player coming into the club.’
As well as talent, Havertz’s career at Bayer Leverkusen also showed he has versatility.
‘The versatility is something we will certainly use,’ says Lampard. ‘It is refreshing as a manager when you have a player come in who can play in different positions and also wants to play in different positions.
‘He has great talent on the ball, his productivity is brilliant in terms of goalscoring and assists, and physically he is great in terms of how he can get around the pitch, and talking about his size we are comparing him to Michael Ballack. All those things come together but I emphasise we do need to give him time, but I am really excited about what he can do.’
Havertz is able to arrive at Chelsea and join a player he already knows very well in Timo Werner, another new addition, and Lampard hopes their connection translates onto the pitch.
‘I know they are good friends from the German national team, and of a similar age. That will certainly be a help and of course everyone will make him feel as comfortable as possible.
‘With Timo I have found that humility and desire to come here and be a success on the pitch, and I think they could help each other and certainly help the team. That relationship will be something that I will certainly promote between them, giving them the freedom to work together. That communication on and off the pitch will hopefully help bring the best out of them.