Gallas slams Arsenal’s signing of Kai Havertz while looking forward to Mudryk| SolSportHQ
Former Arsenal and Chelsea defender William Gallas has given his assessment on the prospects of both of his old Premier League clubs – with new Gunners signing Kai Havertz receiving a damning verdict.
Gallas first moved to the Premier League to join Chelsea in 2001, before departing in 2006 to join Arsenal for a mixed four-year stint as one of a number of players who have made the crosstown move.
Following in his footsteps, German international Havertz joined Arsenal during the summer transfer window for £62million, calling time on a three-spell at Stamford Bridge that saw him lift the Champions League in 2021 after scoring the winning goal against Manchester City.
But whilst Havertz has already got off the mark at the Emirates with a fine performance in Arsenal’s Community Shield win against Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday, Gallas was less convinced with his old club’s recent acquisiton.
When asked about the player’s potential to shine in his new squad, the 45-year-old told Gambling Zone that he ‘didn’t think’ Havertz would rise to the occasion.
‘I don’t believe that Havertz was a player that Arsenal needed to sign this summer,’ Gallas said. ‘For me, even when he was at Chelsea, he was never consistent enough.
‘He scored some important goals for the club, and he played well in flashes. (But) he didn’t put in enough good performances during his Chelsea career in my opinion.
‘When I saw Arsenal were signing him, I didn’t really understand it. I was surprised that they signed him.’
Havertz is one of a number of new recruits that the side have welcomed to north London during an efficient transfer window, including former Ajax player Jurrien Timber, England star Declan Rice, and Brentford No 1 David Raya.
But Gallas believes that Arsenal are missing a specific mentality vital for challenging Man City’s dominance in the league.
‘I’m sure Arsenal will get very close to winning the title this season, but I don’t think they be crowned champions in May,’ the two-time Premier League winner continued.
‘I think Arsenal are missing the character and the personality to become champions – these are the qualities that they needed to show at the end of last season, and they couldn’t.
‘I want to see Arsenal adapt a soldier mentality this season. I want to see players that are ready to communicate a lot in the pitch – demanding more of each other. I want to see experienced players taking responsibility when things are not going well on the pitch for Arsenal.
‘I still think that Arsenal are missing this type of win at all costs mentality and that is why I don’t think they will win the title this season.’
One of the players that Gallas singled out as possessing this mentality is Bukayo Saka, who the Frenchman believes is ‘ready to carry his team’ and be ‘the difference-maker’ next season.
Gallas also had high praise for his compatriot William Saliba, who he deemed ‘almost perfect’ in his return to competitive football in Sunday’s fixture after a spell on the sidelines at the close of last season.
Of his first Premier League side, Gallas predicted that Chelsea would finish in the top five but warned that the Blues would suffer without a ‘world-class striker’.
‘I think (Mauricio) Pochettino will play nice football, attacking football, but in the box you need that striker that is going to score at least twenty goals a season,’ Gallas added.
‘I don’t think Chelsea have that and I don’t think the new players they have signed are capable of scoring twenty goals.’
One bright spot for the west London club, Gallas believes, he has seen up close, when the former Tottenham star featured in Saturday’s charity fundraising match Game4Ukraine.
Although only sharing the pitch with Mykhailo Mudryk for ten minutes, Gallas shared that he thought Chelsea’s Ukrainian forward could be ‘key’ next season.
‘To be honest, even though I said that he needed a year to adapt to the demands of the Premier League after he joined the club, I saw his pre-season games and I saw him up close: he looks good,’ Gallas said.
‘I think he will make the difference for Chelsea this season. He is the type of player that thrives off confidence.
‘Obviously, things were difficult for him last season. I think this year you will see a different Mudryk. It looks like he needs to be one of the main players – he needs that confidence from his manager – it looks like he has it and if he can play week-in, week-out he will be ready to do everything to make the difference for Chelsea. I think he will be Chelsea’s main guy this season.’
Mudryk’s manager Pochettino could be forced to put this opinion to the test during Chelsea’s curtain-raiser against Liverpool on Sunday, after news broke that the Blues would be without their new summer signing Christopher Nkunku for the foreseeable future.
The Frenchman underwent knee surgery after picking up an injury during Chelsea’s pre-season clash against Borussia Dortmund, and will be out for up to 16 weeks.
Mudryk replaced Nkunku at Soldier Field in Chicago, and put in another strong performance against their Bundesliga opponents to see out a 1-1 draw and end the Blues’ summer tour unbeaten.