Kai Havertz is the talk of German football and man of the moment right now as club Bayer Leverkusen once again showcase an undoubted Bundesliga talent.
Soccer stars from around the world have come to play the sport for this club in an industrial city that lies between Cologne and Dusseldorf. Those near neighbors have teams in the Bundesliga this season too, but none so talented on their rosters as Havertz.
Leverkusen can look back over the last 20 years – Havertz’s lifespan to date no less – and say they have produced, developed and brought on a number of international football players.
Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winning duo Lucio and Ze Roberto, Michael Ballack who captained Germany at three major tournaments, and the great if a little listless Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov all wore the club’s jersey in the early part of this century.
That was one generation, though. To put the Leverkusen production line into a more modern context, they were the first club in Europe to take a chance on a tenacious Chilean midfielder called Arturo Vidal.
He has gone on to play for Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona – winning league titles in Italy, Germany and Spain to boot. Current Tottenham Hotspur and South Korea forward Son Heung-Min spent a couple of seasons with Leverkusen too.
A striking sensation
Those are the kind of names Havertz has to live up to, and he has certainly done that so far. This current season is not a breakout campaign for him by any means either, but there is evidence of his growing maturity to go with precocious talent and ability, as he is now setting records for club and the league. Havertz has had the honor of deputizing as Leverkusen captain at the tender age of 20. This is his fourth season in the first team at the club and, according to plenty of rumors doing the rounds, it could well be his last.
Suitors both within the Bundesliga and abroad won’t be difficult to find. Havertz has relished moving into a central striking role in recent matches, scoring five in his last three away games as of the end of May.
Whatever could lie in his future, and we’ll come on to that, he is at Leverkusen for now. They are right in the mix for another top four finish which brings Champions League football with it for next season.
As of 30 May, betting site Betway have Leverkusen at 4/6 for the top four this season in their Bundesliga soccer betting and 16/1 shots in the without Bayern Munich market. Those prices are in no small part thanks to Havertz.
He scored 20 goals across all competitions for Leverkusen last season and has 15 for this campaign in total so far. If his current fine form continues, then Havertz can easily better that tally and further climb up the goal charts.
Europe’s elite have their eyes on Havertz
While catching Munich’s prolific Polish poacher Robert Lewandowski and RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner in their race for the Golden Boot is unlikely, Havertz could easily end the season as third best in this department.
Now that he’s playing up front, the goal burden falls square on his shoulders. Don’t expect an all-round contribution with lots of assists too like we are seeing from English contemporary Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund.
It only looks to be a matter of time before players like him and Havertz are snapped up by other clubs. Europe’s elite will come calling if they keep on delivering and winning matches for their current sides.
Bayern haven’t brought many players in from Leverkusen in recent years, but did use them as a go-to team for transfer business before. Aforementioned trio Ballack, Lucio and Ze Roberto, alongside Croatia central defender Robert Kovac, all moved between these clubs in the early 2000s.
If Havertz continues to be a hit as a striker, could Munich turn to him as Lewandowski’s successor? They are big boots to fill, but this natural goalscorer turns 32 in August and is surely nearing the end of his peak.
Premier League clubs like Liverpool – complete with German manager Jurgen Klopp – and Manchester City – possibly seeking an external replacement for the departing David Silva after a decade – are linked too. Havertz is still evolving as a player, though, and a switch to Spanish soccer can’t be ruled out either for Leverkusen’s latest rising star.