Ballack tells 'exceptional' Havertz to show he wants Chelsea leading role


Michael Ballack has challenged Kai Havertz to "take on the fight" and make sure his slow start at Chelsea is soon forgotten.

Havertz became Chelsea's most expensive outfield player in September when he joined for around £70 million from Bayer Leverkusen, but there has been little return on that investment.

He has appeared in 18 Premier League games, starting 12 times, but has just one goal and two assists to date.

The Germany midfielder has only created one goalscoring opportunity defined by Opta as a 'big chance', and he has been substituted off eight times already.

In 30 Bundesliga games for Leverkusen last term, Havertz scored 12 times, provided six assists and created 15 big chances.

Ballack, who had two spells with Leverkusen and also spent four years at Chelsea, can appreciate the difficulty Havertz has found in adapting to a different league and said the price tag "isn't his fault".

His view is that Chelsea must help Havertz, but that the 21-year-old must also help himself.

"It is important for Chelsea to understand that if you buy a player with that kind of potential, then you have to give him time, bit by bit," Ballack said.

"So he can be in that role and that the team can be built around him.

"At the moment there are too many players that fight for many positions. There are only a few players that are so to speak 'untouchable'.

"Therefore he now faces a normal competitive scenario. It just depends on him, if he is able to win it.

"He needs that will, but if he sees it and takes on the fight then he will be able to get that spot as he has exceptional football qualities.

"However it is a different level than at Leverkusen. Therefore he has to live with it."

Germany great Ballack, 44, believes the recent arrival of head coach Thomas Tuchel to replace Frank Lampard could help Havertz find his feet in England.

The failure of Havertz and Timo Werner to make an instant impact at Chelsea no doubt contributed to Lampard losing his job, given both were major acquisitions and neither has lived up to expectations.

Ballack says fellow German Tuchel will be able to "communicate exceptionally" with Havertz, pointing to the style of Chelsea's play this season as being a factor in why the once-marauding Bundesliga star has proven less effective in the Premier League.

"At Leverkusen, they forced the game onto him with a lot of freedom. He didn't have to chase the ball and was used to attack," Ballack said.

"He probably has some issues now with the rhythm. That means, the game is a bit different. He now also has to work back and work harder on pressuring the opponent."

Werner, meanwhile, was bought in the expectation he would be a regular goalscorer, yet he last netted in the Premier League on November 8, in a 4-1 win over Sheffield United.

This weekend sees Chelsea play the South Yorkshire side again, and Ballack is sure former RB Leipzig frontman Werner is on the brink of getting it right in front of goal. 

"Timo started off pretty well. Of course, if you aren't scoring as a striker, then it is hard on the self-confidence," Ballack said.

"I believe, that it is very hard for him overall, as he was used to playing differently at Leipzig.

"He had a lot more space in front of him. Chelsea is the kind of team that has a lot of ball possession, wanting to dominate the opponent. Maybe even more so with Tuchel."

As with Havertz, Ballack suggests the onus is on Werner to adapt and find a way to become a greater threat to defences.

"Maybe he has to work on his playing style a little bit or try to get himself into better positions," Ballack said.

"As a striker you are depending on your fellow players to find you and if the [goal drought] breaks, then he will be able to find his old form.

"He used to have good phases with the national team, using his physical presence and power to break down on the wing.

"So when the [drought] breaks, then things will go better again."

Source Omnisport