Kai Havertz Arsenal transfer: How could the Gunners line up?

he days of Kai Havertz at Stamford Bridge could be over very soon, since Chelsea agreed to sell the German player to Arsenal for a fee around £65m. The Gunners are getting a player that was seen as one of the most promising of the continent when he played for Bayer Leverkusen, finishing 3rd in the Golden Bot race in 2019.

His journey at Chelsea is chaotic: from being the hero during the 2020/2021 Champions League final against Manchester City to being mocked by hiw own fans due to his poor performances since then, Kai Havertz has the opportunity to prove his former fans that the problem was not himself but the way he was used by the Blues. Back in Leverkusen, Kai excelled by playing as a Central Attacking Midfielder. But for the Blues, he mostly played as the main Striker or even as a winger under Potter.

This has been a recurrent topic for Kai Havertz: where should he play on the pitch. It will still be a topic now that he has signed for the Gunners, so let’s deep dive on how could Mikel Arteta use him best to justify that £65m investment.

Havertz position for Arsenal: A tactical analysis

Option 1: Up front as part of a 4-3-3?

The main formation Arsenal used in 2022/2023 was a 4-3-3, and the vice-champions might be tempted to repeat this formation next year considering their quite good season.

In this formation, it is likely that Havertz could be used as a Striker. A position where he was not very comfortable during his stay at Stamford Bridge. Gabriel Jesus had a decent season, but failed to be the fantastic striker Arsenal was looking for. Havertz as a Striker could mean Gabriel Jesus playing on the Right Wing, a position that he already played at Manchester City.

Having Kai on one of the wings is the other possibility, probably playing on the left as an inverted winger. Even if the German has played this role under Graham Potter – arguably, his best games at Chelsea recently – he was not as good as when he played for Leverkusen in a more central position.

Kai Havertz Arsenal transfer: How could the Gunners line up?
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Playing as one of the midfielders is unlikely considering the profiles needed in such a formation, and the player that could be replaced in terms of profile is probably Martin Ødegaard. It is very unlikely that one of the biggest star of last season will be benched for Kai Havertz. Even though, reports are emerging that Mikel Arteta is considering using Kai Havertz in the same role he used Granit Xhaka this season. It is quite interesting as Kai Havertz has been depicted as a player that plays between the lines offensively, and the Gunners coach would like to try him as a player in-between the lines on a position more distant from the opposition goal. Time will tell, but it would be a fantastic job from Arsenal's coaching staff to identify this possibility and make it a successful evolution for Havertz.

Kai Havertz Arsenal transfer: How could the Gunners line up?
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Back in 2021/2022, Mikel Arteta mostly used a 4-2-3-1, a system that could be the one he is planning to use next season considering the names linked with Arsenal this summer (Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, Jurriën Timber…).

Option 2: CAM in a 4-2-3-1?

The obvious answer is yes. In this formation, there is no doubt that Kai Havertz could be the Central Attacking Midfielder, with Saka and Martinelli on both wings and Jesus as the striker. But there is an issue with this hypothesis: it would mean that Martin Ødegaard is playing either as a central midfielder or is on the bench.

With this formation, even if the natural position for him would be the Central Attacking, he could still be playing in one the wings or as a striker as we already said above.

So there is one key question left to answer at this point…

Conclusion: What role suits Havertz best in this Arsenal team?

This is the main topic to be discussed around Kai Havertz is the role he will have in the roster, and talking about formations only might slightly narrow-minded. Last season, Arsenal was not even a Premier League contender when the season started. At the very best, they were underdogs and everyone would expect them to finish between the 3rd and the 6th position. The lack of depth they showed at the end of the season is seen as one of the reasons why they could not keep up with Manchester City in the title’s race.

Building a stronger roster is a priority for Arsenal, and this means having alternatives that are top quality. And top quality has a price, apparently of £65m for Kai Havertz. A player that can be seen as a starter or a very promising 12th man in a side that will need to rotate more than last season with Champions League football.

Current status in European football makes it impossible to have a strong set of 11 to 15 players and bench players on top. Kai Havertz brings another very interesting piece to Arteta’s roster, one that could be the perfect substitute – or challenger – to Martin Ødegaard, that is still only 24 years old and already showed could be a fantastic player at Bayer Leverkusen.

Kai Havertz Arsenal transfer: How could the Gunners line up?
Photo by IconSport