Frank Lampard has backed the out-of-form Kai Havertz to come good at Chelsea, the Blues boss insisting that the club’s record signing needs ‘time to adapt’ to the rigours of the Premier League.
The 21-year-old’s arrival at Stamford Bridge came as part of an expensive squad overhaul over the summer, with the club bringing in seven major signings as they looked to close the gap on the league’s dominant duo of Liverpool and Manchester City.
Despite the German international lighting up the Bundesliga in recent seasons at former club Bayer Leverkusen – where he netted 36 times in 118 league appearances – he’s failed to replicate that form at Chelsea so far, scoring just once in the league this term to date.
With fellow summer arrival Timo Werner also struggling to settle as yet in England, the Blues haven’t quite performed as well as many hoped, with Lampard’s men currently sixth in the table and seven points behind leaders Liverpool.
Some recent below-par showings has heightened the scrutiny of Havertz in particular, yet Lampard insisted that the record signing has had far from the ideal start to life at the club, with the attacking midfielder not only having a reduced pre-season, but also having to deal with the after-effects of Covid-19, after testing positive for the virus at the start of November.
A year full of growing and learning. Happy New Year everyone. pic.twitter.com/H8Wom6JVtz
— Kai Havertz (@kaihavertz29) December 31, 2020
“My pressure was not really anywhere near theirs, particularly Kai because of the price tag and what came with that, the modern world of expectation and social media and everything that goes with it. It is ramped up completely since my era,” Lampard said at his pre-match press conference.
“Moving country, missing pre-season. I say it a lot, but Kai only had about five work days with us before he played and that is just not beneficial for a player in any league, let alone when you are coming to the fastest, most physical league in the world.
“Then, just as Kai was really coming to terms with it, I thought he had some really good performances, he got Covid and he had Covid quite severely. I’ve read a few things now about how people can really suffer with this and he has definitely had a bit of a fallout from that physically. It is something we are trying to help him deal with.”
Despite some fans beginning to lose patience with Havertz’s underwhelming displays, Lampard insisted that the player simply needs time to adapt and hinted at the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah who struggled at Chelsea before being shipped out prematurely.
“So with the expectations around him, you have to put context to the story. Kai’s talent is undoubted, I see it every day. Giving him the time to adapt to the Premier League and to our team is crucial. We have seen players come here in the past that didn’t really adapt and went elsewhere and then came back to the Premier League and lit it up to unbelievable levels.
“I am not trying to compare Kai to that directly but there are so many stories across the Premier League, not just at Chelsea. I have full belief in him and we need to give him that time, particularly because of Covid. That is an issue that is related beyond his illness.”