This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Liverpool fans were desperate so sign Kai Havertz after his first international goal last week, and the numbers suggest he may well be the heir to Roberto Firmino’s throne.
After Reds fans begged to sign the Bayer Leverkusen ace last week (with one even anointing him “Bobby 2.0”), the Bundesliga club’s manager, Peter Bosz, has admitted they may not be able to hang onto their 20 year-old starlet.
Citing interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, The Mirror report Bosz’s comments to Sport Bild: “Of course I would like to keep him, just as I would have liked to keep Julian Brandt, for example. Kai is only 20 and still has room for improvement. I can help him there.
“But it is like this, at the end the player himself must feel when he is ready for the next step. Nobody can decide that for him.”
And if that “next step” is indeed becoming the long-term replacement for Liverpool’s mercurial number nine, the statistics show he could be the perfect candidate.
A big part of Firmino’s game is of course his pressing and harassment of the opposition, and Havertz is more than holding his own in that department.
Per WhoScored, the Germany international is averaging more tackles and interceptions per match this season, while they both register just shy of a foul per game.
Firmino holds the advantage when it comes to beating players with the ball, averaging a rather impressive 2.5 dribbles per game, while also beating his heir apparent in shots with 3 each match.
However, Havertz actually boasts more key passes per game, suggesting he could have a similar creative influence to Firmino, helping the wingers in Jurgen Klopp’s 4-3-3 system to thrive.
While Havertz only has two top-flight goals so far this campaign – one less than Firmino’s three – he did rack up 17 strikes in the Bundesliga last term, so he is more than capable of scoring the goals to be Liverpool’s man in the middle.
And while the 20 year-old is currently more of a number ten than a ‘false nine’, playing the large majority of his games for Leverkusen as an attacking midfielder, Firmino was the exact same in Germany.
He played no less than 66 games for Hoffenheim as a number ten, and only an estimated 35 as a second striker, and it wasn’t until Klopp worked his magic that we got the well-rounded superstar we see today.
If Klopp is looking for another versatile, hard-working, creative number ten who can become a goalscoring ‘false nine’ under his tutelage, Havertz may well be just the man.