Kai Havertz spent the best part of a decade at Bayer Leverkusen before Chelsea prised him away to west London in the summer of 2020 | Pool/Getty Images
Chelsea’s attempts to snaffle up Europe’s brightest and most exciting talents this transfer window has prompted another glittering name to saunter through the doors of Stamford Bridge.
German sensation Kai Havertz joins an attack already bolstered by the arrival of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner this summer. The versatile 21-year-old may be the youngest of Chelsea’s new recruits, but Havertz has already shown his frightening ability after four seasons of top flight football at Bayer Leverkusen.
Good luck in England, @kaihavertz29! ✨ pic.twitter.com/Tx60Ypr3RT
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) September 4, 2020
After turning down the first few enticing attempts from the German side, Havertz joined Leverkusen’s academy as an 11-year-old. The slender, elegant left-footer has developed into one of the continent’s most thrilling prospects after a decade of nurturing and growth, peppered with some remarkable achievements, at Die Werkself.
Kai Havertz with Bayer 04 Leverkusen
? Youth academy
? Professional contract
⚽ Bundesliga debut
? Champions League debut
? Europa League debut
?? Die Mannschaft debut
? … 100 professional appearances! pic.twitter.com/Cq9iYNrrJe
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) April 12, 2019
They say that youth is wasted on the young but Havertz has taken advantage of prodigious talent early on in his career.
Leverkusen’s former number 29 has scarcely gone a handful of games without toppling some form of age-orientated record. After becoming the youngest ever Leverkusen debutant in the Bundesliga, Havertz racked up 100 top flight appearances at a younger age than any other player in the competition’s history.
Incidentally, this record saw Havertz eclipsed the achievement of his new Chelsea teammate Werner.
? Semis ? pic.twitter.com/nMsK7Ia8c0
— Kai Havertz (@kaihavertz29) March 5, 2020
Leverkusen’s first game of the 2019/20 season was in familiar territory for Havertz as the Bundesliga outfit visited the club he supported as a child, Alemannia Aachen, in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.
Havertz scored the last goal in a 4-1 win at the start of a run which culminated with a trip to the final – the club’s first since 2009. Havertz was again on the scoresheet but Leverkusen were comfortably beaten by a Bayern Munich side on their way to the European treble.
⏪ Kai Havertz in the #UEL last season ?
Leverkusen’s main man for the knockouts? pic.twitter.com/EWt6hlE6ph
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) January 8, 2020
Peter Bosz’s side may have bowed out of the Champions League in the group stages last season, but a reinvigorated Leverkusen (and Havertz) in 2020 saw the club reach the quarter-finals of a European competition for the first time since 2008.
Havertz netted four goals and laid on two assists in the club’s five Europa League games as they were ultimately knocked out by eventual finalists Inter.
Congrats to Kai #Havertz on being awarded the gold Fritz Walter Medal ?️
The youngster talks about what it’s like to be training with the senior team:
? https://t.co/030GQupCXh#DieMannschaft #GERPER ???? pic.twitter.com/n2VAZnt1KQ
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) September 9, 2018
The Fritz Walter medal – an award bestowed upon the nation’s best young players – is an incredibly prestigious honour. When Havertz picked up the accolade in 2018, he joined the likes of Mario Götze, Toni Kroos and Marc-André ter Stegen as winners of the award.
Leverkusen are the first team in Bundesliga history to qualify for the Champions League despite conceding over 50 goals…
To the strikers ? pic.twitter.com/Lsdo4vO2KW
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) May 19, 2019
Havertz’s first taste of top tier European football came in 2016. Although he was forced to miss a game against Atlético Madrid in order to prepare for an exam.
After a two-year absence from the Champions League, Leverkusen had the chance to return to the top European table going into the final day of the 2018/19 season. Die Werkself were in fifth place, level on points with Borussia Mönchengladbach who sat on the other side of the perforated line.
In the season-ending game against Hertha BSC, Havertz opened the scoring before the half-hour mark as Leverkusen did what they had to do and strolled to a 5-1 win.
At the same time Gladbach stumbled at the final hurdle and succumbed to a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund as Leverkusen leapfrogged the foals to sneak into the Champions League.
Havertz’s prodigious talent is such that reminders of his nascent youth can be jarring.
In 2018/19, despite playing largely as a midfielder, Havertz netted 17 Bundesliga goals – becoming the youngest scorer of such a remarkable tally in the competition’s near 60 year history.
This return was enough to see Havertz finish the campaign as the division’s third top-scorer, just four goals shy of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.