Richard Buxton: Leverkusen's Havertz is more wunderbar than wunderkind
His burgeoning reputation attracting the likes of Barca, Liverpool and Bayern
Kai Havertz did not need football's Covid-19 echo chamber to make himself heard.
Long before matches were forced behind closed doors by the coronavirus pandemic, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder's name was already reverberating within the game's consciousness.
But the Bundesliga's current cavernous surroundings have certainly helped amplify it.
A first-half brace saw Peter Bosz's side rack up a 4-1 win over Werder Bremen yesterday morning (Singapore time) and showed why Havertz is more "wunderbar" than wunderkind.
Still only 20, Leverkusen's homegrown hero continues to redefine standards in the German top flight. He remains the league's youngest player to both reach 100 competitive games and score 30 goals.
His ability to spearhead their attack at the Weserstadion in place of injured striker Kevin Volland confirms his all-rounder status.
He also boasts the impressive feat of contributing just under a goal every two games with a combined tally of 67 goals and assists from 140 appearances.
Understandably, Europe's great and good have taken note of that burgeoning reputation.
Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are just three clubs on a growing list of suitors.
Leverkusen's nickname of the "Eternal Bridesmaids" means they are under no illusion that the day of reckoning is fast approaching, with Europe's elite preparing to test their resolve.
The BayArena has been a successful proving ground for some of the world's leading players - Michael Ballack, Toni Kroos, Arturo Vidal and Son Heung Min all excelled on the banks of the Rhine.
None, however, stuck it out with a team notorious for its perennial underachievement.
Havertz will be no different and the only question is whether he will spread his wings in the Bundesliga or further afield. Liverpool's interest carries contrasting emotions for John Henry.
For a time, the Reds' owner could not wake up without being deluged by requests on Twitter from supporters imploring him to sign off on a deal for Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus.
Every pronouncement Henry made on the social media platform generated countless replies of "sign Reus" - to the point that he followed up a tweet about an article on the Higgs boson particle in 2014 with the immortal words, delighting and confusing fans in equal measure.
Juergen Klopp's appointment to the Anfield hot seat a year later reignited the link, yet his failed pursuit of another Bundesliga prospect now serves as a cautionary tale for Havertz's future.
A sliding doors moment occurred in 2017 when the Liverpool manager saw Julian Draxler join Paris Saint-Germain and Mohamed Salah instead moved to Merseyside. History vindicated the decision, with the Egyptian becoming a bona fide idol with The Kop.
Draxler, meanwhile, has become a peripheral figure at the Parc des Princes since leaving Wolfsburg.
The German side nurtured the winger's evident talent, but could not prepare him for the harsh realities of a life outside of the Bundesliga and in Neymar's imposing shadow.
The World Cup winner finds himself rapidly approaching the one-year anniversary of his last appearance for Germany, after being hailed as the country's future on the international stage.
In contrast, Julian Brandt has shown the benefits of trading up in the Bundesliga. The former Leverkusen winger finally ended prolonged speculation when he joined Dortmund last summer.
Havertz is unlikely to reunite with his one-time sparring partner at Signal Iduna Park with an eye-watering £100m (S$173.5m) valuation likely to price them out of the race for his signature.
Yet he can still follow Brandt's route to the top, rather than joining Draxler in the doldrums.