Mikel Arteta needs to resist any temptation of using Kai Havertz as a left-back at Arsenal following his unusual role for Germany. The Gunners boss cannot afford to rip up his plan for the former Chelsea star just yet.
It has been no secret that Havertz has struggled since joining Arsenal in the summer. To the surprise of his fanbase, Arteta splashed out up to £65million on the 24-year-old as his first signing in the off-season.
He had struggled in his final couple of years at Chelsea after mostly being used as a No 9. Arteta gave him the opportunity to play in midfield again and must stick to his guns.
Havertz has been in and out of the Arsenal side of late. The injury absence of skipper Martin Odegaard has seen him get an opportunity after spending some time out of the starting XI.
He has yet to win over many of his new supporters and has often faced criticism for his performances in north London. Excitement mixed with intrigue and confusion hit social media on Saturday night when it emerged Havertz would start at left-back for Germany.
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Many thought a mistake had been made when the team sheets were announced for the friendly against Turkey in Berlin. But Germany boss Julian Nagelsmann confirmed it was the case.
He said: “We have different formations. Kai won’t always be in this position. I have a great idea for him because he’s an exceptionally good footballer. This is a very good option. He won’t always play as a classic left-back.”
The question was posed by many online, perhaps tongue in cheek, that could this secretly be Havertz’s best position? The role of a full-back is not what it was five years ago – just look at Arsenal’s own Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Havertz couldn’t have got off to a better start in his new role. Within five minutes, he scored his first goal from open play for club or country since June.
Germany lost their lead and went behind before half-time, with neither goal Havertz’s fault. Nagelsmann’s side drew level through Niclas Fullkrug before Havertz was harshly adjudged to have handled in his own box.
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Turkey scored from the spot and won 3-2. Not the way Havertz would have wanted his night to end.
But even if Havertz was a success at left-back, Arteta must resist any temptation to play him there. He brought him in to play in midfield alongside Declan Rice and Odegaard.
There is still work to be done for that trio to be trusted in the biggest of matches. Arteta has opted to play Jorginho a lot more recently to give an extra defensive-minded option in the middle of the park.
But he has clearly seen something in Havertz to believe he can be a long-term member of his midfield. Arteta already has numerous options at left-back so unless his injury situation gets worse, don’t expect to see Havertz there in an Arsenal shirt.
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