Paul Merson claims Kai Havertz has a ‘problem’ as, like Mesut Ozil, the midfielder can appear disinterested when things are not going well for him since signing for Arsenal.
The Gunners fluttered their cash to lure Havertz to north London from rivals Chelsea in June. Mikel Arteta paid an initial £62.5m for the 24-year-old, with future add-ons taking the fee up to £67.5m. But Merson does not feel the German has enjoyed a positive start at Arsenal yet.
Arteta has started Havertz in all five of Arsenal’s fixtures so far this season, including in their Community Shield victory. But the Spaniard has also taken the Aachen-born playmaker off in their last two Premier League games. He had played the full 90 minutes in their first fixtures.
Vieira has shone in Havertz’s place with Arsenal
Havertz even only played for 56 minutes against Fulham after which his replacement, Fabio Vieira, inspired Arsenal’s comeback. The Portuguese gem won the penalty that Bukayo Saka scored to draw level before also assisting Eddie Nketiah two minutes later, only to draw 2-2.
Vieira again took Havertz’s spot against Manchester United last Sunday and he would assist Gabriel Jesus’ stoppage-time goal. Arteta is yet to see Havertz score or lay on an assist in an Arsenal shirt. The 37-cap Mannschaft maestro has received two yellow cards in his matches.
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Merson now feels sorry for Havertz having watched him struggle at the start of his career as an Arsenal player. But the Gunners hero expects Arteta to continue playing the German after sealing his signing this summer. He is also a ‘big fan’ of what Havertz can deliver at his best.
Merson feels Havertz’s demeanour is similar to Ozil’s
Havertz left Chelsea having scored 32 and assisted 15 goals across 139 games, despite him never having a set position. The Blues’ managerial merry-go-round saw him feature as a left and right winger, as a centre-forward and as an attacking midfielder with little consistency.
Yet despite being moved about their pitch most weeks, Havertz often stayed in Chelsea’s XI. He also scored the only goal of the 2021 Champions League final to beat Manchester City in Porto. But Merson feels Havertz’s demeanour with Arsenal is an issue as it is similar to Ozil’s.
“I feel for Kai Havertz,” Merson wrote in his column for Sky Sports. “He’s playing in a position where it’s not easy [and] he hasn’t played very well.
“Mikel Arteta will stick with him. He’s low on confidence but Arsenal have won three and drawn one. You’ve paid that money and put yourself out there to go and get him.
“The cream rises to the top. I’m a big fan but I did say when he got signed, he has got that look of Mesut Ozil about him. That’s the problem. If it isn’t going well, he doesn’t look too interested. That’s not the case – it just comes across like that.”