Chelsea can takeover Liverpool transfer scheme with Roberto Firmino heir to keep Tuchel promise


With the gift of hindsight, Thomas Tuchel's decision to replace Romelu Lukaku with Kai Havertz for the Champions League tie with Lille last month feels quite a definitive moment. Four days removed from Lukaku's record-breaking seven-touch display at Crystal Palace, Tuchel made a bold move in an effort to improve a faltering attack.

The effect of that decision has been highly positive. Chelsea have suddenly found a new verve in their play, build-up play has suddenly felt less stale and repetitive, and we have been treated to some great goals.

Part of that is down to Havertz's stunning form, aided by his fellow attacking peers also uncovering good form. Another factor that solidifies the reasoning behind the switch feels symbolic for Tuchel's tenure.

During Sky Sports Monday Night Football coverage following Chelsea's win over Newcastle, Jamie Carragher analysed the work rates of Premier League strikers. Focusing on Chelsea, a graphic was put up comparing Havertz and Lukaku this season.

In the league this season, Havertz has one more appearance than Lukaku (20, 19), one more goal with his six compared to Lukaku's five. Per 90 minutes, it breaks that the German averages 20 more to the Belgian. (Havertz 49, Lukaku 29).

Also bettering in successful passes with 25 to 12. When it comes to distance and sprints is where Carragher's broader point comes into focus. Havertz averages a distance run per 90 of 11km compared to Lukaku's 8.9km and 20 sprints to 10.

When Gary Neville brought up a graph comparing the league stats per 90 this season of 'big six' teams, Haverrz ranked fourth out of 12 selected players. Lukaku was bottom behind Cristiano Ronaldo, with distance and sprints the two parameters.

Out in front with 20.4 sprints per game is Roberto Firmino, a player who has become essential to Jurgen Klopp's intense pressing system at Liverpool. Although few can replicate the unique intensity of Klopp, Thomas Tuchel's reliance on counter-pressing from his forwards certainly suits Havertz, leading to his place above Lukaku in the pecking order.

Havertz had to produce goals to justify the switch, which he has—scoring against Lille, Burnley, Norwich and Newcastle. In the league, helping to double last season's total and win the Blues valuable points to get closer to securing Champions League qualification.

This graph in itself should be used for future attacking recruitment at Chelsea under Tuchel. The club has recently failed to recruit players who fit the required style of play, something that is essential if Chelsea hope to seriously compete with Manchester City and Liverpool in the coming seasons.

Havertz, like Firmino, sets the benchmark for the attributes a player must possess to fit what their coaches are demanding. It is telling in this list that Diogo Jota sits just behind Havertz, a player bought in 2020 from Wolves and has seamlessly integrated into Liverpool's attack.

Whoever Chelsea aims to back-up Havertz or fill wider attacking positions, specifically targeting players of his profile is essential to ensure we don't get a repeat of the Lukaku situation anytime soon, which has proved highly costly in the market.

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