Chelsea's Kai Havertz relishing prospect of taking on Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool

Chelsea’s biggest summer signing, Kai Havertz, has always been a keen follower of Premier League football, so he knows exactly what Jürgen Klopp has done for Liverpool in recent seasons. The Liverpool manager’s standing is so high in both Germany and England at the moment it would be a difficult subject to avoid anyway, but when Chelsea kick off their home campaign against the defending champions on Sunday Havertz will feel his real introduction to English football is properly under way.

The 21-year-old admitted he was tired out by his debut exertions against Brighton last week, acknowledging that games in the Premier League can be more physically demanding than those in the Bundesliga, but is aware Klopp’s team come with a guarantee of energetic pressing and a record of making blistering starts to league campaigns. Perhaps that was not quite in evidence in the somewhat uncertain opening victory over newly promoted Leeds last week, but Chelsea have invested heavily over the summer in a bid to join Liverpool and Manchester City at the very top of the table, and as part of that strengthening Havertz is well aware that this early season contest could set the tone for what is to follow.

“Klopp is a big manager in every sense,” the former Bayer Leverkusen forward said. “He’s achieved a lot at Liverpool and you can only say congratulations, but I don’t think he’s satisfied yet. From what I know of him I would say he is still hungry, wanting to win more titles.”

With Timo Werner also in the Chelsea side, a player who originally seemed destined to join Klopp at Anfield, the German connection will be strong at Stamford Bridge. Certainly Klopp will be familiar with what Havertz and Werner have to offer, just as those two know exactly what Liverpool will be getting with the signing of Thiago Alcântara. “I’m glad to have Timo over here with me,” Havertz explained. “I always wanted to play in England but I didn’t know I would get the move so soon. This is a big step for me, coming to a new country with a different culture at such a young age, but when you have a friend in the team from your own country it is always easier.”

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Jürgen Klopp and Frank Lampard discuss rivalry before Chelsea v Liverpool – video

Yet for all that, a long-time admirer of Chelsea in general and Frank Lampard in particular did not have to think too long about making a decision to leave Leverkusen. “When I knew the Chelsea manager wanted me it had a big impact on my thinking,” Havertz said. “Frank Lampard was exactly the sort of player I wanted to be when I was growing up, I used to watch everything he did and it was the same with Michael Ballack. The pair of them were the reason I always used to watch a lot of Chelsea games, I’ve always loved the club and when they got in touch it really was not a very tough decision for me to make.”

Havertz did not seek out Ballack for advice about Chelsea or England, though he is aware that other young German imports have not always found it easy to progress in this country. Leroy Sané found Bayern Munich impossible to resist after a few years in and out of the Manchester City team, while Serge Gnabry has shone since returning to Germany after struggling for game time at Arsenal and West Brom.

If anything Havertz comes with a much bigger reputation, regarded as an already complete player after more than a century of games for Leverkusen and a promising half dozen for the national side, hence the £72m fee. He also speaks excellent English, and despite his tender years has an already developed individuality rare in professional sport. He is a supporter of animal welfare charities, for instance, and is studying the piano as a release from playing football. “I like to do things not everybody else will do,” is the way he puts it. “There was always a piano in my grandma’s house, and when I started playing it I found it relaxing.

“I do believe there are more important things in life than football, but I am still very excited about coming to England to play for Chelsea. It was always my goal to play in the Premier League and I am really happy to be here. I remember a lot of the games Chelsea played against Liverpool in the Champions League over the years, and now I am going to get a taste of that rivalry.”



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