Frank Leboeuf explains why Kai Havertz is as much of a ‘problem’ at Arsenal as he was at Chelsea
'That guy’s an enigma.'
Many eyebrows were raised when Mikel Arteta decided to splash £65million on Havertz over the summer who had endured a turbulent three years at Stamford Bridge.
And after failing to make a single goal contribution in his first nine appearances, the criticism of the transfer only grew, though the German has since scored his first Gunners goal and set up the late winner against Manchester City.
Leboeuf has been one of his most notable critics, recently claiming that the 24-year-old’s best position was ‘on the bench’, amid the debate around where the player is at his most effective.
During his breakthrough at Bayer Leverkusen, Havertz was an attacking midfielder but found himself deployed as a centre-forward or false-nine, while Arteta has attempted to convert him into a left eight to replace Granit Xhaka, though his best performances in red and white have been up front.
Leboeuf, still isn’t convinced however, saying that while very talented, Havertz just doesn’t fit in at the Gunners, just as he didn’t fit in at the Blues:
‘That guy’s an enigma, we don’t know where to put him. That’s the problem, his inconsistency at the top level.
‘Everything was organised very well at Arsenal last season. We knew the midfielders, we knew the strikers, everything. And because of his price tag, you have to play him but that’s disorganised the team.
‘You have the striker – [Eddie] Nketiah or [Gabriel] Jesus – and then you have [Bukayo] Saka, [Gabriel] Martinelli or [Leandro] Trossard on the wings. You don’t need him up front.
‘In the middle of the park, because you have [Martin] Odegaard you need two strong midfielders to get the ball back. So, you don’t need him.
‘So, you have created issues and problems because you hired him. He has a talent for sure when he’s at his best. But right now, he’s more a problem than a solution.
‘That’s why I say he’d be better on the bench because Arteta didn’t find any solution to put him at his best and to make sure it doesn’t affect the team. Right now, Havertz on the field affects the condition and the rhythm of the team.
‘I was happy to see him leave Chelsea because he was the same problem. You have to sacrifice players to put Havertz in. That’s the problem.’
Havertz will come up against his former club for the first time on Saturday evening, when Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge, a match that will also likely feature Mykhailo Mudryk who joined Chelsea in January having been heavily linked with the Gunners for months.
Recently, the winger finally scored his first goal for the Blues – nearly eight months and 24 appearances after his £89m move – and Leboeuf is ‘hopeful’ the 22-year-old has turned a corner:
‘He came and signed with big amount of money, big price tag coming from Ukraine in war and everything. He needed time to adapt to new football and he’s very young.
‘But there is a time when you need something back. And it’s a long time since he signed, and people are expecting a lot more. Hopefully he’s going to produce and he’s going to do what we want.
‘So maybe we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and I really want him to give his best because he has the pace and the skills to do that.
‘He’s confused in his head right now. He has to make everything clear to make sure he gives 100%. I would love to see that because I’m sure he’s a talented player.’
Frank Leboeuf was speaking to Metro on behalf of Stakefans.com.
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