We all knew it was coming, but last night Arsenal finally confirmed the signing of Kai Havertz.


With everything that has been going on with Declan Rice, it feels like the Havertz deal has gone under the radar. And I do not think people realise how big a deal it is.

We have gone to Chelsea with a bag full of cash and walked back to North London with their best player.

Ignore what Chelsea fans are saying. Last season Havertz was their best player.



And has probably been their best player of the last 3-years since he joined.

Signing the best player from a rival at home is something we have not done in god-knows how long.

I honestly can not remember the last time we went to Manchester United or Liverpool and signed their best player. And we have certainly not done it since Chelsea got their Rubles.

Some will say “Sol Campbell”, but Tottenham were not a top club then (and are not now!).

Even if you extend it to abroad…

We had Alexis Sanchez. A fantastic talent playing for Barcelona. But he never really became a mainstay on the Barcelona first team, often being rotated in and out.

In 2014/15, the Catalan side signed Luis Suarez so Sanchez became surplus for requirements. Suarez joining Neymar and Lionel Messi.

Mesut Ozil is another big name signing. He joined the year before Sanchez. But like Sanchez, his club no longer wanted him.

The German had started just 23 La Liga games the season before for Real Madrid. And in the summer of 2013, Madrid signed Isco and Gareth Bale. Ozil was moved on.

In both Ozil and Sanchez’s case, they were no longer wanted by their clubs.

They were not first team regulars in their final seasons, their clubs were looking to cash in and upgrade, and they were being touted around Europe. Havertz is not the same.

Last season, no Chelsea player played more games than Kai Havertz.

Of the 50 games Chelsea played, Havertz played a part in 47 of them, starting 38. Only goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga played more minuted.

Havertz is also one of the first name on the teamsheet for his country. And we are not talking about some tin-pot nation. We are talking about Germany.

Since making his international debut in 2018 he has:

  • Played 38 games
  • Been left on the bench 8 times
  • Missed 11 games due to illness or injury

Not been selected when fit on 1 occassion

So of the 47 games he was available for, he has played a part in 80% of them.

We then go further back.

Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira and more were not at the level Havertz is when they joined.

In 1995 we broke our transfer record Dennis Bergkamp. Two years before he joined he was runner-up in the Ballon d’Or. 1992 he finished 3rd.

But the Bergkamp of ’95 was not the World Class talent of 1993.

His move to Italy had been a disaster and Inter Milan were looking to get rid after just two seasons.

Havertz time at Chelsea has not been the disaster that Bergkamp’s spell at Inter was.

We potentially have to go back to 1971 for the last time we signed a player who was at the top of his game for a rival club. Alan Ball.

Ball was the youngest man of England’s 1966 team. His performances at the World Cup saw Everton sign him from Blackpool. The transfer was a record fee paid to an English club.

As part of the “Holy Trinity”, Ball would play an instrumental part as Everton won the league in 1970.

The season after, Everton struggled (like Chelsea), and Arsenal won the double. In December 1971, Ball joined Arsenal for a record fee.

The current champions went to the previous champions and signed their best player.

Ball was 26-years-old at the time and at his peak. A few years after joining he would be named club captain and play over 200 games for Arsenal.For a long time he would also be Arsenal’s most capped England player.

In modern day terms, Alan Ball was a wonderkid who fulfiled his potential and became World Class.

In any other summer, we would be celebrating what a coup signing Havertz is. But with the focus on Rice, we have secured his transfer inconspicuously.

Arsenal’s team flying to Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s wedding to take the promo photos barely caused a ripple in the media or on social media.

The way the Havertz deal was done was how all transfers should be done. Quickly, professionally and in the interest of all parties.

I am comfortable in saying that Kai Havertz is the biggest transfer Arsenal have done (in terms of signing a top player from a rival) since Alan Ball – let us know in the comments if you disagree.


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