Football

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz’s stock is rising

Leverkusen midfielder, linked with Europe's biggest clubs, bags first goal for Germany against Argentina

Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz is living up to his billing after the midfielder scored in Germany's 2-2 draw with Argentina in an international friendly yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Just last week, Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri hailed the 20-year-old as "the complete player" ahead of their Champions League Group D encounter, which Juve went on to win 3-0.

"He is a player who combines excellent physical qualities with great technical skills," Sarri, 60, said.

"At the moment, Leverkusen are using him mainly as an attacking midfielder behind the central forward or as a winger.

"He is a complete player who could also play as a midfielder. He is a player born in 1999... with those qualities and with that personality, it is certain he will become... one of the most important players in Europe."

Havertz, who now has one goal and two assists in six matches for Germany, has been linked with several of Europe's top clubs, including Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

International teammate Marco Reus, who missed the Argentina game with a knock, said last month that he will "try everything" to convince Havertz to join him at Borussia Dortmund, as he did with former Leverkusen attacker Julian Brandt.

"I will try everything to guide him to Dortmund. I will try my best just as I did with Julian. And now, with Julian, I have an ally who knows him very well. So let's see what happens," Reus told Sport1.

Also winning plaudits for his stellar displays in recent weeks is Serge Gnabry.

Gnabry bagged four goals in Bayern Munich's 7-2 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League last week and continued his rich vein of form by scoring for Germany on 15 minutes before setting up Havertz to make it 2-0 at Signal Iduna Park.

The goal brings the 24-year-old winger's tally to 10 in 11 appearances for Die Mannschaft, setting a new national team record previously held by striker Miroslav Klose, who had 10 in 13 games.

Said Germany coach Joachim Loew of Gnabry's performance: "He played at an incredible tempo today and made some unbelievable runs.

DANGEROUS

"He was absolutely everywhere today and he always looked dangerous - the entire Argentina back line looked unsure of themselves every time he got the ball.

"Therefore I had to take him off, because it was clear that I needed him (for the Estonia game on Monday morning). The risk of him getting injured was too big for me to keep him on."

Loew, who handed four debuts yesterday after 13 withdrawals due to either illness or injury, added that his side faded after a bright start.

"We wanted to be in the game right from the off but, unfortunately, we couldn't hold on for 90 minutes. We lost a few balls, a bit of courage and got into trouble," said the 59-year-old.

Meanwhile, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni praised his battling side for staging a comeback despite missing stars of their own.

The visitors were without Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Angel di Maria, but inspired substitutions by Scaloni ensured they left with a draw.

Lucas Alario turned the game when he came on for Argentina with an hour gone. The Leverkusen striker pulled a goal back, then set up fellow substitute Lucas Ocampos for a deserved late equaliser.

"We matured during the game," said Scaloni.

"We made two or three mistakes in the first half, but got a grip in the second half, were more patient and we take a lot of positives for the future.

"I was impressed with the attitude, we didn't give up when we went 2-0 down."

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