Kai Havertz may have finally become the Arsenal hero against Brentford with his late winner, but even that does not make him the Bees knees. Commentator Rio Ferdinand, who knows a thing or two about carrying a price tag as a former holder of the British transfer record, suggested it may be something of a turning point for the Germany international.
“This could be the catalyst to the next stage of his career,” he said. “That is why they bought him – to score big goals in big moments. Arsenal fans have questioned him but he needed that. The team needed that.”
When Havertz scored for Chelsea against Manchester City in the 2021 Champions League final it was undoubtedly a big moment. But even that – or his goal in the Club World Cup final – never fully justified the £72m fee that Chelsea paid Bayer Leverkusen.
Arsenal paid a shade under that, but three points picked up at the Gtech Stadium or similar are going to need a lot of banking if his worth is ever to approach that as a goalscorer.
Ironically, it was one of Ferdinand’s fellow commentators Peter Crouch who knows better how hard a slow start can be. He was in his 19th games since moving to Liverpool before he finally scored against Wigan. But he had always looked like scoring and his final tally of 22 Premier League goals in 85 games that made him a popular, if somewhat quirky, player with the fans.
Havertz became the Bundesliga’s record-scoring teenager with 17 goals in his third season but his ability to hit the back of the net then dropped off alarmingly. 36 goals in 118 matches came at a more impressive goal every 3.3 games.
At Chelsea he had to wait 4.8 games on average for each of his 19 goals while being forced to take a meaningless penalty at Bournemouth and now this latest strike against Brentford means in 13 games, his two goals have arrived at a rate of only one every six-and-a-half.
Manager Mikel Arteta is determined to remain optimistic. “If things came easy, he wouldn’t have got the reception he got today with everybody hugging him and telling him how much we love him,” he said.
“It is because he is adorable and a joy to work with.” Such a joy to work with that he started the game with him on the bench.
The truth is that while his interplay is occasionally incisive, he does not have Martin Odegaard’s eye for a pass or the pace of other attacking players such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
If Havertz is to justify his price tag with big goals – they either need to be bigger or there simply needs to be more of them.