Julian Nagelsmann ‘very surprised’ at criticism towards Kai Havertz

Speaking ahead of Germany’s friendly against Austria on Tuesday evening, Julian Nagelsmann is surprised of the criticism towards Kai Havertz, who played at left-back against Turkey on Saturday.

“We played the same formation as in the USA,” said Nagelsmann. “Kai didn’t play the classic left-back role and I have to be very surprised that he was criticised as a left-back.

“He won all of his duels and played well. If one criticises that he scored a goal, then [Alex] Grimaldo with six goals should no longer play as a left-back. Kai did very well.”

Nagelsmann also kept his options in regards to a starting lineup against Austria open. Havertz could again feature at left-back, but a decision will be made after the final training session.

Post defeat against Turkey, Nagelsmann hinted that Havertz playing at left-back would not be a one-time thing: “Kai said he wanted to do it, wanted to try it. I don’t see this as a risk for him, but as a very, very big opportunity to play a key role at the Euros. For the first time in an unfamiliar position, he did extremely well and probably was our best player.”

But playing Havertz at left-back is something that Lothar Matthäus, Germany’s most capped player, doesn’t want to see again. In his Sky Germany column, the World Cup winner said: “Kai Havertz brings a lot of quality but he wasn’t trained for this position. I get that the coach wanted to try something out, but I hope it won’t happen again.”

However, Matthäus did add that Havertz was one of Germany’s best players in Germany’s 3-2 defeat on Saturday, but believes the Arsenal player should play an attacking role in the squad.

“It can’t be a permanent solution to suddenly put one of the best German attacking players of recent years at full-back,” added Matthäus, via iMiaSanMia.

GGFN | Daniel Pinder