What Viktor Gyokeres to Arsenal transfer means for Kai Havertz as Mikel Arteta dilemma clear

Sporting CP striker Viktor Gyokeres
-Credit: (Image: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

When Kai Havertz was signed by Arsenal it was primarily as a midfielder. Mikel Arteta viewed the German as an attacking player able to operate in the No.8 role alongside Martin Odegaard and in front of Declan Rice.

The first six months of his Arsenal career demonstrated the issues that several managers have now had with Havertz in the role. The second six months show why he is still so valuable.

In 2024 he has now scored 12 times and assisted seven for club and country, all the while offering himself in a variety of positions. Despite not being utilised at Chelsea as a No.9, or a false nine, Havertz has ended up producing his best as the focal point.

But heading into his second summer, and his first full one with the club, Arsenal are still looking to introduce another player to either compete or replace him. Not replace him directly, as in send him to the bench, but to allow for more flexibility.

Gabriel Jesus struggled last year for form and fitness, leaving Arsenal short, and there is uncertainty over where his best position may be. Arteta increasingly used him on the right of attack as Havertz made the centre his own, but ahead of 2024/25 the same may not be true.

Given the focus so far this window (all two weeks of it) has been on a striker, it can be assumed that changes are afoot, and if that's the case then it certainly impacts Havertz one way or another. Either Arsenal do not wish for him to primarily be the striker, or they don't wish for him to be there at all.

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Either way, in rotation he will remain an option, but the names being considered would not be arriving to play second fiddle. So does this mean Havertz drops back into midfield?

If the signing was to be Viktor Gyokeres, newly 26, then perhaps so. Gyokeres is not only experienced enough to come in and immediately hit the ground running - especially after his 43 goal season in Portugal - but he is also durable and managed over 4,000 minutes in all competitions for Sporting CP.

He is not the sort of attacker to be used anywhere other than as a centre forward either. Gyokeres, when he plays, will be the striker for Arsenal, and almost certainly the only one.

So when Gyokeres is on the field - if a transfer is completed this summer as some reports in Portugal suggests may happen, with his release clause at £85million - it will mean that Havertz is not in the role he excelled so well in. It is noticeable that he is also in the same advanced spot for Germany at this summer's European Championship.

As was the case 12 months ago, and even some weeks into the season, the alchemy of it all will be crucial. Havertz didn't quite click into the role that Arsenal and Arteta needed when he played deep, but after defensive changes and tactical tinkering, he became a more effective option by the end.

Still, Havertz's best came when he was situated up front, and Gyokeres arriving would almost certainly disrupt that. Havertz is now playing with more confidence than before though, so perhaps this could bring different results if the double-No.8s - who really become double-No.10s for Arteta - is used again with Gyokeres included.