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Arsenal closing in on Kai Havertz transfer, agreement in principal reached

Well that was fast.

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AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Kai Havertz will soon be an Arsenal player. David Ornstein reports that the Gunners have reached an agreement in principle with Chelsea for the transfer of the German attacker, £62M up front and £3M in add-ons. Fabrizio Romano and Sky Sports sources in Germany have confirmed the deal. Arsenal have already agreed to personal terms with Havertz.

The German attacker had a bit of a down season, but still led a struggling Chelsea side in nearly all relevant attacking categories and scored 9 goals across 47 appearances in all competitions. Havertz’s most impressive attribute (and the one that was likely extremely relevant and attractive to Mikel Arteta) is his pressing. He’s in the 90th percentile for tackles, blocks, and clearances among forwards.

For those of you who might be concerned about his finishing (because some people are trying to push that narrative):

Everybody calculates xG a bit differently, but if you look elsewhere, Havertz is more or less even with his xG for his career. Compare that with Gabriel Jesus whose goal total lags about 12 goals behind his xG, starting in his 20-year old season at Manchester City (2017-18).

The best guess is that Havertz is earmarked for the left #8 role, even though at Chelsea he has mostly played centrally with a bit of right wing mixed in. He’s a left-footed player, and we all know how much Mikel Arteta likes to match up footedness with sides of the pitch. Havertz’s ability to play across the attacking line makes him a perfect signing for Arsenal — Arteta has a demonstrated preference for players who are positionally flexible. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Havertz leading the Arsenal line or giving Bukayo Saka a rest on the right wing at times next season.

There isn’t much to be said about the price tag. It is what it is. We don’t have enough information to judge the number in context. As we’ve seen the last two summers, Arsenal, despite “overpaying” according to some, have done all the business they felt they needed to. We’ve not seen the club be unable to sign a player in a position they’ve targeted for an addition because of an outlay elsewhere.

I think Kai Havertz is an excellent signing for Arsenal. I wanted him when he moved to Chelsea in 2020 and nothing has happened since to change that stance. The Gunners needed to add another attacking threat to the rotation this summer. In the stable setting that is Arsenal and with Mikel Arteta’s coaching, Kai Havertz could blossom into a star much in the same way that Martin Ødegaard did.