“He can also do what Bellingham is doing at Real Madrid here at Arsenal if you help him unlock his potential”- Arsenal legend Ian Wright tells Mikel Arteta not to loose star talent who was key in Arsenal’s 5-0 win over Sheffield this evening- Not Nketiah, Smith Rowe, or Odegard.
Mikel Arteta’s ultimate model for unlocking Arsenal’s superstar is Jude Bellingham’s performance against Barcelona.
Arsenal may identify Kai Havertz’s optimum position by adopting Jude Bellingham’s template at Real Madrid.
Arsenal could find a solution to their Kai Havertz positioning problem by looking to Real Madrid and their star signing Jude Bellingham. Since joining Real Madrid in the summer, the England international has been nothing short of spectacular, scoring 13 goals and assisting three in his first 13 games in all competitions.
On Saturday, he was at his best in the biggest game of the season thus far, the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona. The teenager was influential once again in the tie, scoring an equalizer from beyond the box before coming on in stoppage time to win the game for his team.
So, comparing the two players may raise some questions and reservations about how the two may be remotely similar from the outside looking in. Not only are they completely different types and personalities, but one is excelling and being lauded as one of the summer’s best acquisitions, while the other is under increasing pressure to live up to his price tag.
However, there are more similarities than one may assume between their forms. First, it’s important talking about Havertz and how he came to this point, where many people simply don’t know where he fits in. Now, the Germany international isn’t just a bad player; these players don’t lose their quality overnight, and he was one of the more sought-after kids at Bayer Leverkusen.
Havertz looked like the next great thing in Europe, scoring with both feet, his head, and even from the penalty spot. He had the most success in a role where he would drift into space left open by other players who were more focused on the striker.
At the time, one of the biggest advantages was playing with Kevin Volland, a towering target-man-like striker who could keep defenders busy. The seasoned forward would be pressuring the backline and in swoops Havertz, reaching the back of the net with box-crashing runs and headers in the space left.
This changed with his transfer to Chelsea, where it was expected that his goals at Leverkusen would translate to the Premier League. However, rather of fitting him into his customary role, the youngster was viewed as the centre-forward himself, and given his height, he had the potential to achieve this.
However, because Havertz was now the producer of space rather than the receiver of it, the types of opportunities he received were different, and it never fully worked out. Mikel Arteta’s move to Arsenal has seen him branch out, playing him as a midfielder, but he isn’t always finding the same openings as Martin Odegaard, who is further advanced, and he is more reliant on winning duels instead.
That has raised questions about where Havertz’s best position is, when in fact it has been there since his days in the Bundesliga. That achievement is being replicated in La Liga by an England midfielder, and that’s right, it’s Jude Bellingham.
Goal scoring has become a trend for the youngster at Los Blancos, and it’s clear that it’s for the same reasons that Havertz discovered. It’s the comeback of Joselu at Real Madrid, not Volland, who is playing off of a huge striker and finding space in the pockets that fall behind it.
It was something he took advantage of in the El Clasico, first by taking up the space on the edge of the box vacated by his striker, then by pushing the backline deeper into the box for the cross that would allow him time to shoot. The winner saw Bellingham vanish into space behind the backline while everyone else was looking elsewhere, giving him the freedom to reach that gap.
If that wasn’t enough, Diego Simeone, the Atletico Madrid manager who masterminded a 3-1 win against his local rivals by minimizing the impact of Bellingham, articulated it perfectly. “Jude Bellingham often takes advantage of Joselu’s aerial game,” stated the Rojiblancos boss. “Without Joselu his spaces were reduced.”
It may explain his strengths and shortcomings, comparable to how Havertz achieved success in the past. The challenge for Arsenal would be having that aerial presence up front, which neither Eddie Nketiah nor Gabriel Jesus provide, which might require turning to a striker in the January or summer transfer window.
It remains to be seen whether it works out for Havertz or Bellingham at their respective clubs, but it demonstrates how playing to a player’s talents may drastically change their view.