He's "one of the most talented players" in Germany, but how much do you know about Kai Havertz?
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A Bundesliga veteran while still a teenager, Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz is heading to the top; UEFA.com has the lowdown.
Name: Kai Havertz
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
2018/19*: 31 games, 12 goals
Who is he?
At 19, Havertz is into his third season with the Leverkusen first team. In that time, the Germany international has featured across midfield, but since Peter Bosz took charge he has been deployed as a forward-thinking central midfielder in a 4-3-3.
What makes him so good?
That versatility aside, Havertz has an ideal blend of skills for a modern midfielder: he is tall, quicker than that frame would suggest – he has been clocked as one of the fastest players in the Bundesliga – creative, spatially aware and has an eye for goal.
Why is he the centre of attention?
The teenager has flourished in Europe, returning three goals and as many assists in four UEFA Europa League outings. Havertz has also been thriving in central midfield, his position at youth level, and recently became the youngest player to score a penalty for the Werkself. His reaction – "I was pretty sure I'd score; I didn't have a high heart rate or anything" – tells you all you need to know about his mentality.
Where has he come from?
Havertz hails from Aachen, a city that borders Belgium and the Netherlands. The tyro was once upon a time a season-ticket holder at Alemannia Aachen, the club he left in 2010 for Leverkusen. At the BayArena, former coach Roger Schmidt promoted him to train with the seniors.
When did he make his debut?
The youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances, Havertz made his top-flight bow in October 2016 at the age of 17 and his first UEFA Champions League outing – against Tottenham at Wembley – followed two weeks later. His international debut came in September 2018, Havertz the first player born in 1999 to represent Germany.
How far could he go?
To the very top if Joachim Löw's description of Havertz as "one of the most talented players we have in Germany" is anything to go by. The midfielder's stated aim is to feature at UEFA EURO 2020; continue this domestic form and he would appear a shoo-in for what will likely be a fresh-faced Germany squad.
At club level, Leverkusen are understandably keen to keep hold of their prized asset, but Havertz gives no sense of being a young man in a hurry. "Leverkusen is exactly the right place for a young player to develop," he said recently.
What they say …
"That a once-in-a-century talent like him will at some point have other ambitions is normal. He's interesting for a lot of top clubs, but his contract situation is comfortable for us."
Rudi Völler, Leverkusen managing director for sport
"You don't need to be a football expert to see that Kai is a very good player."
Peter Bosz, Leverkusen coach
"The biggest talent since Toni Kroos."
Heiko Herrlich, former Leverkusen coach
"What he brings to the pitch in terms of playmaking, technique and mentality is tremendous. He's so talented and has everything to become a star."
Julian Brandt, Leverkusen team-mate
What he says …
"Mesut Özil is my role model. I think our playing styles are similar and that's why I'm trying to learn as much from his game as I can."
"[I started playing piano] as a distraction, to clear my head. At the moment I'm learning some classical pieces and am trying to learn some songs from the film Amélie."
"I've played in the Bundesliga for two years now and so I can slowly start to take on more responsibility."
*appearance data includes games for Leverkusen and Germany