Kai Havertz will have a big impact in his Chelsea career, Thomas Tuchel insisted in his pre-match press conference.
The 21-year-old has not enjoyed an easy debut season at Stamford Bridge, after leaving Bayer Leverkusen for the Blues last summer. Although it has been an arduous few months for the German, the Chelsea manager is certain that he will have an upturn in fortunes in due time.
Speaking about Havertz on Friday, Tuchel said, “Since I arrived, the only thing that kept him from making a big impact was his injury. I see a committed guy, who made a brave decision to go abroad at a young age, to go out of his comfort zone to accept a big challenge in a big team in the biggest league.
“I see a guy who is aware, full of talent, who will have a big impact at Chelsea, I’m absolutely convinced. He can have a big role at the club, and he is absolutely determined to fulfil this role. We need to give him the time he takes, he will lift our offensive potential.”
Tuchel was speaking ahead of Chelsea’s meeting with Manchester United on Sunday, in a huge clash in the race for European football. The Blues can move within three points of their rivals with a win at the Bridge, whereas United are looking to keep themselves in the title race for as long as possible.
Although Havertz is in contention to play this weekend, he has barely featured under his fellow German. The attacking midfielder has only started in the goalless draw against Wolves, which ushered in the start of the Tuchel era, only since featuring sporadically off the bench.
Havertz has 11 goal contributions in 27 appearances for Chelsea, playing across five different positions in five months at the club. His versatility is a valuable trait for the youngster, with Tuchel discussing where he believes his best position is on the pitch.
On Havertz, Tuchel explained, “He’s a unique player, it’s not so clear where he needs to play, where he needs to settle, if he’s a hybrid player. Today, I would say he’s inbetween a 9 and a 10, something inbetween. he’s comfortable in the box, in high positions, in offensive headers, he has good timings to arrive in the box.”
With six points between Chelsea and Manchester United, the result will be crucial in deciding whether the two rivals will remain in contention for the rest of the season. Nonetheless, although the Blues manager recognised the magnitude of the fixture, he assured that Sunday’s clash is far from the final decider.
Tuchel said, “There are still many games to play, but it can be a huge step. If you lose to a direct opponent that we are hunting, you absolutely don’t want to lose, because it opens the gap where it can be impossible to reach them. There are still a lot of games to play, even if we win it, it will not be decisive. It is a big game against a direct opponent.”
He went on to say, “The goal is set, we want to win. It’s super difficult, but we are up for the challenge, we are in a good moment, and we have to even improve throughout the game. It is possible, it is difficult, but we will go for it.”
This will be the third time Tuchel has faced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season, meeting earlier on with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
However, the German will no doubt have their clash from two years earlier in the back of his mind.
PSG faced Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16, taking a 2-0 lead into the second leg on home soil. However, the Red Devils completed a famous comeback, winning on away goals with a stoppage time winner from Marcus Rashford. It is a defeat that still resonates deeply for Tuchel, who will be vying to gain revenge.
He said, “For two days I was in a very dark place. I was not able to speak to anybody or think about anything else but this defeat. I didn’t experience it like this ever again. It was like, it came from absolutely nowhere. This hit was hard to take. For two days I was in a dark place, I gave them [the players] two days off.”
Tuchel added, “It’s sometimes necessary to grow and develop and to ask yourself decisive questions. That can hurt, and the reward was one year later, when we reached the final for the first time. Some moments you face adversity, it makes you stronger. I would love to turn it around, we love the competition and a good fight, and this is hopefully what we get on Sunday.”
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