The making of Kai Havertz: From knocking down gnomes to leading Lampard's revolution

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Kai Havertz Frank Lampard Chelsea
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Chelsea have agreed to pay a club-record fee to sign the 21-year-old playmaker who possesses supreme talent and a unique skill set

One of the major transfer sagas of the Premier League summer is almost over: Kai Havertz is within touching distance of officially becoming a Chelsea player.

The Blues have agreed a club-record £72 million ($93m) fee to sign the Bayer Leverkusen playmaker, with a further £18m ($24m) potentially due in add-ons down the line.

Havertz has already signed his five-year contract at Stamford Bridge as he prepares to take the next step on a journey that has already seen him become one of the world's most coveted players by the age of 21.

That journey began in the rural German village of Mariadorf, where Havertz grew up under the watchful gaze of his police officer father and mother who worked as a lawyer.

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It was his grandfather Richard, though, that oversaw his early footballing education. He would have his grandson aim shots at the gnomes in his garden and coach him to use his left foot.

He also enrolled Kai at the local club for whom he was chairman, Alemannia Mariadorf, with the young Havertz immediately making his mark at Under-6s level despite being only four.

Following the passing of his grandfather when Havertz was six, he joined his first professional club, Alemannia Aachen, at the age of 10.

He would spend only one year with them, however, after scoring a hat-trick in an 8-3 defeat to Leverkusen alerted the BayArena outfit to his talents.

They did have to fight off competition, with Borussia Monchengladbach and Koln also keen to sign Havertz before Leverkusen were able to secure one of German football's outstanding youngsters having gone on an extreme charm offensive to ensure he chose them.

Leverkusen were glad they did, with Havertz's youth career finishing with him earning the silver Fritz Walter Medal after being named the second-best German U17 player in 2016. Two years later he would win gold in the U19s category.

At the age of 17 years and 126 days he became the youngest debutant in Leverkusen history before going onto make his international debut a year later.

Havertz has continued to break records, becoming the youngest player to make 100 appearances in the Bundesliga - a record that was previously held by his new Chelsea team-mate, Timo Werner - and the youngest to ever captain Leverkusen.

Kai Havertz Bayer Leverkusen 2019-20

Standing at 6'2" but with a top speed of almost 22 miles per hour (35km/h), Havertz has benefitted from being a small child with a low centre of gravity before his body underwent a growth spurt at 14.

He idolised Lionel Messi growing up, and the creativity he possesses matched with his physical attributes has led some to suggest he is the perfect combination for the modern playmaker.

"The good German players are in high demand as they are well schooled and good professionals," ex-Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves told Goal in a recent interview. "He [Havertz] is the next one.

"All eyes are on [Erling] Haaland and [Jadon] Sancho in the Bundesliga, but Kai Havertz is the one from a German perspective.

"He is special. He is like a hybrid of Michael Ballack and Mesut Ozil. That says a lot in terms of his goals and elegance. He is a super player."

Hargreaves Havertz quote GFX

Former Leverkusen managing director Reiner Calmund agrees on the Ballack comparison but believes Havertz has the potential to surpass the ex-Chelsea midfielder in terms of his ability.

"At Leverkusen, we had three absolutely exceptional midfielders in Michael Ballack, Emerson and Bernd Schuster, whose careers I have followed intensively from the start," he told Goal.

"Ballack was the most dangerous, Emerson shone with his versatility and Schuster was great from a strategic point of view. If you compare these guys to Havertz when they were 21 years old, Kai is superior to all three.

"Sporting director Rudi Voller also shares this view that none of the three at this age had such skill. He explained to me that Havertz would also be the more exceptional player in the medium term."

Havertz's former team-mate Roberto Hilbert, meanwhile, believes silverware is likely following the playmaker's move to Stamford Bridge, telling Goal: "I was there when he made his debut in our team at 17. In this generation, I think he will be a game-changer.

“I think he has a level of talent that nobody else has. When Chelsea sign him for the next years then I think it will be a great chance to help them win titles in the Premier League."

Frank Lampard and the Blues will hope so - they would not have fought so hard to sign Havertz if they did not believe he would deliver.

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