Arsenal have been told they are a better team without Kai Havertz in than with him by a former Chelsea player ahead of the match between the two clubs this weekend.
Chelsea sold Havertz to Arsenal in the summer transfer window in a move that surprised some because of his inconsistency across three years in west London. Many wondered where he would fit into a lineup that had just finished second in the Premier League.
Nevertheless, Mikel Arteta has been adapting Arsenal’s formation and has managed to find a place for Havertz at some stage of all 12 of their matches so far this season.
He has started five of a possible eight Premier League matches since his transfer, but was on the bench most recently against Manchester City. And that, according to former Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf, is where he should stay.
Leboeuf told the Metro: “That guy’s an enigma, we don’t know where to put him. That’s the problem, his inconsistency at the top level.
“Everything was organised very well at Arsenal last season. We knew the midfielders, we knew the strikers, everything. And because of his price tag, you have to play him but that’s disorganised the team.
“You have the striker – [Eddie] Nketiah or [Gabriel] Jesus – and then you have [Bukayo] Saka, [Gabriel] Martinelli or [Leandro] Trossard on the wings. You don’t need him up front.
“In the middle of the park, because you have [Martin] Odegaard you need two strong midfielders to get the ball back. So, you don’t need him.
“So, you have created issues and problems because you hired him. He has a talent for sure when he’s at his best. But right now, he’s more a problem than a solution.”
Havertz ‘better on the bench’
The pundit continued: “That’s why I say he’d be better on the bench because Arteta didn’t find any solution to put him at his best and to make sure it doesn’t affect the team. Right now, Havertz on the field affects the condition and the rhythm of the team.
“I was happy to see him leave Chelsea because he was the same problem. You have to sacrifice players to put Havertz in. That’s the problem.”
Arsenal are next in action on Saturday evening, when they visit Havertz’s former stomping ground to take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Havertz may have a point to prove against his former employers, which might make it tempting to give him some action, but Arteta will have to work out the best overall formula for Arsenal to get a result against their rivals.