Why Kai Havertz Feels He Isn’t The Same as Eden Hazard at Chelsea


Germany’s Kai Havertz arrived at Stamford Bridge on a five-year contract, joining Chelsea in the summer transfer window ahead of the 2020-21 season. The transfer fee was reported to be worth an initial £62 million, which could rise to £71 million with add-ons, making him Chelsea’s second-most expensive signing in the London club’s history.

In his first season, Havertz won the UEFA Champions League and followed it up with the UEFA Super Cup at the start of the 2021-22 season. The 22-year-old, in an exclusive interview, looks back on his journey so far, time ahead and bagging the Premier League title.

EXCERPTS

Tell us about football. Could things be going, any better – you win your first Premier League game of the season three-nil and you’ve already lifted the super cup. What’s the atmosphere like around here?

Yeah, I think in the moment, very good. I think when you when you start the season like this when you win the title in the first game, of course, it’s good for us. We won the first premier league game that’s also very important. But I mean, yes, just the beginning. I think there will be some tough challenges also, and yeah, we just must keep going. As we said before, I think we are just like the hunters. We want to win games win more I think now we tasted a little bit of titles and stuff like that, and I think when you want this before you want to win more. And I think that’s also the goal for this season.

You play with Bernd leno for Germany, of course.  I know that during the 90 minutes it doesn’t matter how good a friend you have on the other team but, say you score the winner, will you be straight on the phone to him after the game?!

For sure!  He’s a very good friend of mine and Timo as well.  We’re in a kind of little group in the international team – also our girlfriends are very close together so I like him but when I score the winning goal then I would celebrate for sure!

It’s only been a couple of days but tell us about Romeu Lukaku what sort of impact he has had so far.

Yeah, very big, I mean he’s a top striker – one of the best in the world I mean we all know that.  We all know his quality. We are very happy that he’s here now. And I think we waited very long, but we also saw it in training now that he’s a very strong character. He always wants to help people and wants to improve. He helps as young players as well, a lot. I mean, it’s the first week so it’s now difficult to say on Sunday (that) everything will go right, but I mean that also takes a little bit of time but, of course, we are very happy that he’s here and for us, yeah, it’s nice to have him because he’s a very, very good striker.

A little while ago, he tried to take credit for you being here – he said it was all down to a conversation after a Europa league game between Leverkusen and Inter Milan.  Do you remember that conversation?

Yeah, I remember.  We talked after the game. I was upset that we lost. He was happy. So, he came to me and just said that he thought Chelsea would be the right club for me. And I think I listened very well, and I’m very happy now that we play together.

Look back at your first season in England.  It finished on one of the highest highs possible by winning the Champions League, but the 10 months or so overall – how do you rate it?

Not good for me personally, I mean, in the end, we reached our goals, we qualified for the champions league. But I mean, not all the 10 months were bad, but maybe the first four or five months were not perfect for me. I didn’t play my best football, and some people were upset with me, but I knew that maybe this will happen because it was a big step for me. But then I think I grew as a player, as a person and maybe sometimes these downs help you as a person and as a player as well and you can learn from it. And for me, yeah, now I’m feeling good, I think. I’m very happy how the season ended for me, for us. And, you know, I’m just looking to the future and will try my best to play like, yeah, play the same good football like at the end of the last season.

When you arrived here you were just 21 it’s a completely new country. You arrived, I think, 10 days before the start of the new season so no real pre-season with your new teammates. You then get covid in the middle of the season and there’s a change of manager. It couldn’t have been less straightforward. And yet, like you said, there was a lot of criticism.  That was harsh, wasn’t it?  Did it feel unfair?

Unfair?  I don’t know.  I mean you come here with the sign of 80 million pounds on your head. I mean, of course we are all humans. But the people expect from you that you are good when you come here for 80 million pounds – I understand that for sure. But of course, it’s sometimes not easy, but I knew that I have a strong family and strong friends behind me that always helped me with that. And I knew that after like rain also comes the sun. And I think I knew that there will be also better times for me. And that just was positive.  Of course, it was difficult for me. And but also yeah, the teammates, the staff, they helped me a lot. And, yeah, I think then from January on it as very good again. And I think I still have a lot of room to improve. I’m still very young, and I’m hungry and I want to achieve more. And I hope the next, or this season will be then better for me.

I’m not going to dwell on the negatives, but when you were feeling low which teammates were most helpful to you.

Yeah, obviously we have some Germans here like, Timo, Toni and Mateo Kovacic speak German.  Christian Pulisic too – it’s sometimes easier to speak to them because they speak German. They helped me a lot, but also, I have to say all the English players – because we’ve been in one changing room because of the covid rules. And it was always funny you know they help you and sometimes of course you also make jokes when you see, I don’t know an Instagram – a GIF from you where everybody makes jokes about you. Sometimes it’s funny. So, yeah, they helped me a lot, but I have to say, almost everybody.  We have a very strong bond here and everybody helps each other, and I think that’s also the reason why we won the two titles.

I mentioned before we started that statistics-wise if you look at your first season and Eden Hazard’s first season, they’re very similar.  So, if you carry on along the same path as him, I imagine you’ll be very happy.

I hope so. I mean he’s, he’s one of the best players Chelsea ever had.  I hope that I will do the same as him but it’s not easy to compare because he’s a different type of player.  But I mean you always look, look to the best players and you want to achieve the same things as them. And me, I do the same. I want to achieve as many good things as possible. And I have a lot of years in front of me and I will try to do that.

If you look back to the first couple of weeks of last season and compare it to the first couple of weeks now, do you feel very different?  Can you feel a difference now to a year ago?

Yeah, I mean 100%.  You know, you come here, you don’t know any person, it’s another language, another type of football, another style of football, you know?  Everything is new. And now I’m used to it – I play with them now one year already, and I know everybody and all the staff and all the players, and of course I’m now settled in very well. It’s a very good atmosphere here. And the thing of course is different, but I think it’s for every transfer, it’s always difficult the first, first few weeks.  Even though I was very young, and I didn’t know how a change would be. But, of course, now I feel better.

And do you have a nice space in the cupboard for a Premier League winners medal next to the Champions League one?

Yeah, no, I mean that’s the next goal.  It would be nice, but I think now after the first game it’s difficult to say, “we want to win the league” because they are still 37 games to play. And we know that we know that we have a lot of good opponents. So, we just think game by game and then we will see at the end of the season.

Live action of the Chelsea vs Aston Villa match on Star Sports Select on Sept. 11. Commentary in Bangla and Malayalam on Star Sports 3

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