20hAlex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez

James Olley, Senior Writer, ESPN FCJul 28, 2023, 03:00 AM ET


James Olley is a senior soccer writer for ESPN.com. Read his archive here and follow him on Twitter: @JamesOlley.

Kai Havertz has said he doesn’t expect to walk straight into Arsenal’s first team despite being the third-most expensive signing in the club’s history.

Arsenal signed the 24-year-old from Chelsea in a deal which could reach around £67.5 million ($86.3m), meaning only Declan Rice (£105m from West Ham United) and Nicolas Pepe (£72m from Lille) cost the club more money.

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Havertz has formed part of a new-look three-man midfield alongside Rice and Martin Odegaard at times in preseason, but the Germany international is taking nothing for granted as Arsenal continue their Premier League preparations with an Emirates Cup fixture against Monaco next Wednesday.

“I think everyone has to earn their position in the team,” Havertz said. “You play when you train well and play well in the games. I think I have to also give everything in every session, in every game. That is how I get into the team. Not only me but every player. Always in a big club like this there is competition. I am going to give 100% to play.

“Obviously it is a completely different style of football than what we played at Chelsea. I think it’s a style that suits me very well. Of course it always takes a bit of a while to get used to that again. I am two-and-a-half weeks here. It is going to take some time, but I am giving everything to try to perform on a high level.”

Havertz switched positions regularly during Wednesday’s 5-3 friendly win over Barcelona at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles – moving to the left flank and also through the middle. He scored a goal against the Catalans and believes the new No. 8 role in Mikel Arteta’s preferred 4-3-3 system could help him rediscover his best form after a mixed three-year spell at Stamford Bridge.

Despite scoring the winning goal in the 2021 Champions League final against Manchester City, he struggled to consistently produce his best after joining from Bayer Leverkusen, scoring just 19 goals in 91 games even though he regularly played as a centre-forward.

“I really enjoy it, to play that position [as a No. 8],” Havertz said. “I am more on the ball, more integrated in the game. I am really enjoying it. I think I have a lot of room to improve in the games, I am still adapting to the game and everything. So far it is working quite well.

“I think [goals are] important for my position, and also with my height. I want to score goals. It’s part of my game. I always have to arrive there. Hopefully it works more times in the league now.

“The team is amazing and it definitely feels like home already. They have made it very easy for me to integrate with the team. It is fun to be with them, they are all so young and hungry. This is exactly what I wanted and I am very happy to be here.”