Thomas Tuchel doesn’t expect Kai Havertz to produce the same blood-and-thunder performances to former Chelsea forward Diego Costa as the German will never be the “emotional leader” of the Blues side.
The reasons for that are myriad. There wasn’t a natural role in Frank Lampard‘s system for the 21-year-old and he was also left bedbound for a week after contracting Covid-19 at the start of November.
Tuchel’s appointment was expected to kickstart Havertz’s campaign. Yet an injury suffered in training ruled him out for a month. The Germany international was eased back into the starting XI and has slowly rediscovered his best form.
Against Crystal Palace yesterday, Havertz was instrumental in Chelsea’s 4-1 win. Deployed as a false nine, the forward put the Blues ahead with a composed finish and then teed up Christian Pulisic for the second goal of the game.
Havertz was presented with two excellent second-half chances to add to his and Chelsea’s total but his finishes lacked a little composure and Vicente Guaita was twice able to deny the former Leverkusen star.
After the win at Selhurst Park, Tuchel was asked if Havertz is finally at his best in a Blues shirt.
“We will see, I cannot tell you,” the German coach replied.
“For us, he had a tough match against Porto and the speech [before yesterday’s game] was very easy: go and show you can do better and fight for your place. He got a second chance and he took it. He can be even more ruthless in finishing because he has extra quality.
“He doesn’t have to be our emotional leader because he is not that guy and it is not necessary.
“But, in terms of controlling the ball, keeping it in difficult situations, making little runs, being in high positions and having good finishing: this is what we demand. He needs to show up and show up. This is life as an offensive player at Chelsea.”
Havertz is an elegant forward, one whose best work is done with a rare subtlety. For that reason, he will not be a forward who relishes physical duels or roughing up opposition centre-backs.
Tuchel appreciates and understands that. And he has told Chelsea supporters to enjoy the gifts Havertz possesses rather than comparing him to the club’s last elite-level striker: Diego Costa.
“He is simply not that guy that will fully feel or see enraged [on the pitch],” Tuchel said. “Some guys, you feel they have to fight with others to get a certain momentum. He is not a Diego Costa kind of guy. This is simple. I will never demand he will become this.
“Sometimes you cannot confuse with his body language that he doesn’t give everything. He is a very quiet character and we are aware of his quality. I can just repeat he stepped up and changed clubs from Leverkusen to Chelsea. A club where you need to win games and everyone expects a lot from you.
“I am very happy because he stepped out of his comfort zone and he is ready to show it. He has the quality and this is how he can help the team and become an important player, if he can show he is involved in the games and quality on the pitch.”