Manchester United and Chelsea will both be expecting to challenge for silverware, and at the very minimum clinch a Champions League place again, next season. But it is only the London club who have backed up their ambition with a remarkable summer of spending.
While Old Trafford chiefs continue to ponder and monitor potential targets, Chelsea have been swift in reinforcing Frank Lampard‘s ranks with several star names. The most recent came in the form of a club record deal, for a player United had reportedly also identified on their shortlist.
Kai Havertz has headed to west London in an overall package worth £89million and admitted that working under the club legend at the helm helped him make up his mind. There can be no doubting that there were plenty of interested parties, with United having weighed up a move.
Manchester United remain firmly in the hunt to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho
Old Trafford chiefs had also identified Kai Havertz, who joined Chelsea, as a potential target
Their hesitation helped pave Havertz’s path to a direct Premier League rival, adding another unsavoury twist to what has so far transpired to be a summer of frustration across the board.
The Manchester Evening News claimed that United held off on moving for Havertz due to another electric wideman having been earmarked as their primary target. That player, of course, is Borussia Dortmund and England sensation Jadon Sancho.
Both starlets command eye-watering price tags and had impressed in the Bundesliga last season. But as it stands, just one has moved to England with United still unwilling to stump up the £108m required to snap up Sancho.
It comes as no surprise that both elite clubs have been desperate to add more firepower to their squads, but Chelsea have proved worlds apart with their decisiveness and formidable spending power.
Havertz has moved to Stamford Bridge from Bayer Leverkusen in a club record £89m switch
Chelsea are targeting silverware next season and the signing of the versatile Havertz will help
KAI HAVERTZ’S 2019/20 STATS
(Stats taken from all competitions)
The arrival of Havertz will significantly boost their hopes of achieving more success when football resumes this month, and the groundbreaking signing may ultimately prove pivotal in the race for Europe.
His statistics more than speak for themselves. Havertz scored 18 goals and laid on nine assists in 45 appearances for Leverkusen last season. He netted a goal every 205 minutes on average, with an assist arriving roughly every 410 minutes, for his club and on the international stage. The playmaker also boasts an unblemished penalty record with seven successful attempts.
This ability to tee up his team-mates, combined with his formidable nature inside the penalty area, means he will be able to operate across Chelsea’s forward line and terrorise a number of top flight defences.
Havertz was afforded a total of 30 ‘big chances’ last term in the Bundesliga. A 21.82 per cent shot to goal conversion followed, an impressive number considering the average for the division stands at 16.63 per cent. And even more notable is his prolific record from close range. He boasts a 50 per cent shot to goal conversion inside the box, a number which goes a long way to justifying the club record outlay required to poach him.
The 21-year-old scored 18 goals and laid on nine assists in 45 outing for Leverkusen last season
Frank Lampard has been superbly backed in the current market with a £230m overall spree
His rich vein of form also saw him linked with Real Madrid and Champions League holders Bayern Munich – and the move makes the 21-year-old the joint most expensive player ever signed by a British club.
But while Havertz will be relishing the chance to make his Premier League debut against Brighton on September 14, Sancho remains in the Bundesliga with Dortmund. He recently revealed he has been left humbled by the club’s valuation of him, although it is their steadfast stance that has seen United fail to land Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-choice target so far.
Dortmund set a deadline of August 10 to wrap up negotiations, but United were unable to land their man before then. The saga continues to rumble on with under a month until the window closes, and any drastic breakthrough has not yet materialised.
It has been widely reported that discussions with the North Rhine-Westphalia outfit have been tortuous at times, and United will not negotiate a fee until an agreement has been thrashed out with the 20-year-old’s representatives.
Dortmund imposed a deadline of August 10 for United to sign Sancho but the deal has stalled
They are even believed to have now sounded out a number of alternatives with time creeping down until the deadline. The impasse is surprising considering Sancho has been a target for months. United wrapped up third spot in July and the achievement, which appeared unlikely throughout most of the season, sparked hopes they would be able to snap up the exciting prodigy in a club-record swoop of their own.
There is almost a £20m difference between the price tags for Havertz and Sancho, a figure rendered even more significant due to the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. While that is not wholly justified, Sancho does boast better statistics from last season than his rival.
The England international made 44 appearances across all competitions, netting 20 goals and registering 20 assists. He averaged a goal every 135 minutes, and an assist every 143 minutes, for club and country.
Havertz and Sancho hurtling down their flanks in Germany last term proved an enthralling spectacle, and both players underlined their limitless potential with countless displays of brilliance. In the top flight alone, Sancho was given 30 ‘big chances’, an identical figure to Chelsea’s newest signing.
Sancho made 44 appearances in total last season, netting 20 goals and registering 20 assists
Sancho appears to be a better fit than Havertz for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s typical style of play
JADON SANCHO’S 2019/20 STATS
(Stats taken from all competitions)
He recorded 29 shots on target, and his conversion of shots to goals came in at 32.80 per cent – almost double the average of a very competitive division. Sancho also comfortably betters Havertz in this particular department.
And it is also Sancho who proved a more lethal figure when bearing down on goal. His conversion rate when inside the box stood at 65.38 per cent, further underlining just how important he would be to Solskjaer’s rebuild at Old Trafford.
Both stars possess bundles of flair and confidence, although it is Sancho who would ultimately prove the better fit at Old Trafford. The Dortmund star appears significantly more accomplished in areas United are desperately crying out for, although Havertz’s trickery and ability in multiple positions makes him a perfect addition to Lampard’s new-look strike force.
Despite the speculation that continues to rage around his future, Sancho is remaining firmly grounded. ‘For me, I just focus on my football,’ he said. ‘I just want to do what’s best for my team and win titles at the end of the day.’
Solskjaer will be concerned by the lack of arrivals with the Premier League back this month
Following a promising first full season with Solskjaer at the helm, United will be targeting trophies again when they re-enter action. The addition of Sancho will drastically help them to achieve this ambition, although time is running out to finally complete the deal.
Meanwhile, Havertz has already begun training with Chelsea. His first session came on Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after putting pen to paper, and he will be fit and firing in time for the new campaign.
United will not regret missing out on him, but their future success may depend on them signing Sancho. The sight of Havertz wheeling away in celebration at Old Trafford will of course not be a welcome one, but the pain on missing out on Europe will be greater.
The club cannot afford to take the risk and miss out on the generational talent, who is undoubtably capable of season-defining moments. One thing is for certain – the Premier League will become all the better with both of them in it.