Chris Sutton urges Arsenal to reconsider Kai Havertz role

The Gunners made the surprise move to sign Kai Havertz from Chelsea for £65 million over the summer, but manager Mikel Arteta is yet to find his best position.

Kai Havertz is “shackled” and “psychologically destroyed” with the pressure at number nine, but plays with more freedom in the No. 10 role and is clearly talented, former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton claimed on Monday’s episode of the It’s All Kicking Off podcast.

Mikel Arteta turned to Kai Havertz for Arsenal’s FA Cup match to operate as the false-9 against Liverpool with Gabriel Jesus missing. And fair to say, the German international had an evening to forget, failing to find the net in the 2-0 defeat despite firing five shots on target.

The 24-year-old was given umpteen chances to score but showed a massive lack of conviction, and one header in particular was glaringly worrying. Havertz now has five goals and an assist in 29 games this season, having been signed in the summer from Chelsea for £65 million.

Switching roles between midfield and attack, the German attacker was expected to produce a better goal contribution return. While Havertz understandably is receiving plenty of flak from all corners, former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton has pointed the finger at manager Mikel Arteta for Havertz’s misfiring display at the weekend, claiming that playing him as a No. 9 really affects him mentally and is a “huge” mistake.

Sutton told the ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ podcast: “He looks like the weight of the [number nine] shirt is too great for him…Kai Havertz is a good footballer, but I think Mikel Arteta playing him as a number nine, it just absolutely kills him, destroys him psychologically.

“He has to play him as an eight. And we’ve seen this season that when he does play as an eight, he seems play freer, he seems to enjoy it more. So I think that was a huge mistake from Mikel Arteta and something which he really needs to think about.”

The 24-year-old is clearly not a prolific finisher, and he will be unable to properly spearhead Arsenal’s attack. They must consider investing in a poacher in January, with recent links to Ivan Toney.

Having said that, playing him solely as the No. 10 won’t help either, as he’s not an elite creator of chances like Martin Odegaard. At his Bayer Leverkusen peak, Havertz flitted in and out of multiple different attacking positions during games thanks to his incredible versatility and tactical understanding.

However, he’s had his confidence shattered over the last few seasons, and he’s finding it difficult to fully believe in his abilities and his best position. Arteta is in a desperate situation when it comes to deploying Havertz in various roles, but he must figure out how to get the most out of Havertz to boost Arsenal’s title hopes.

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