Mikel Arteta has come to the defense of his new signing, Kai Havertz, following criticism of the 24-year-old’s performance against Fulham.
Havertz made the switch from Chelsea to Arsenal earlier in the summer for a reported £65 million, but his transition hasn’t been entirely smooth.
The German international faced challenges during Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the United States, notably struggling in the Cross and Volley challenge where he failed to score.
Furthermore, he received widespread criticism for his performance in Arsenal’s disappointing 2-2 draw with Fulham at the Emirates, particularly for a missed opportunity that left supporters frustrated.
His statistics were then released after the game, leading to further uproar, with the former Bayer Leverkusen star managing just one shot and four touches in the opposition box.
It was a performance that even led Richard Keys to harshly label Havertz “[Mesut] Ozil without the talent”. However, manager Arteta has warned fans to lay off Havertz, insisting that if supporters ‘show him love’, he will come good for Arsenal.
“I tell you what I feel about him, I love him,” Arteta said during a press conference after being asked about Havertz’s early Gunners career. You can watch below…
Mikel Arteta comes to the defence of Kai Havertz with a passionate speech on why he should be shown love from the Arsenal fans.
Listen to it because it’s the best thing you will hear today. pic.twitter.com/ihEWUSR0YF
— now.arsenal (@now_arsenaI) September 1, 2023
“I see his qualities every day in training, his work-rate is excellent. The stats are what is missing at the moment – to put the ball in the net.
“It’s difficult to ask our supporters more, but my feeling is: ‘give him love, and we will get the best out of him’.
“But we have some very, very beautiful examples in the last few years with players that we have given support and love, and they have felt that and just exploded. He has got a lot to give us.”
A reporter likened the reception Havertz has received to that of Gabriel Martinelli when he first signed for Arsenal, before Arteta reeled off a list of first-team stars who were initially doubted by fans.
“Ben White could not play as a full-back”, Arteta quipped, relaying comments he had previously heard from fans.
“Aaron Ramsdale isn’t good enough and now you sign another keeper and it’s a catastrophe! But Aaron Ramsdale wasn’t good enough for Arsenal. Bukayo Saka was a left-back, Granit Xhaka. We have so many examples.”