Liverpool and Manchester United’s hopes of signing Kai Havertz this summer all boil down to the form of Philippe Coutinho, according to Michael Ballack.
The two Premier League sides are both expected to make offers for the young German playmaker come the end of the season, as Havertz considers his next challenge.
The 20-year-old would attract a significant price tag, with reports in Germany suggesting that his club Bayer Leverkusen are braced for bids and will demand around £110million.
Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich are widely considered the favourites to land Havertz, if he does decide to move on, and Ballack has backed the switch – having made the same move himself in the past.
However, the former Chelsea star also admits that a future move for Havertz could hinge on whether former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho can hit top form and convince Bayern to activate his purchase option instead.
Asked whether Bayern should make a move for Havertz, Ballack told Sport1: “Whether you might be obliged to do so depends on Philippe Coutinho’s future.
“I don’t want to make any recommendations there, but regardless of this: if Bayern act in perspective and you still want to get the best German players, Havertz has to be brought in.
“He is an exceptional player, but one thing is also clear, Havertz still needs time.
“He also needs the robustness to be mentally prepared for FC Bayern. I also needed my time in Leverkusen back then. Havertz must now look closely at his development. We do not need to talk about his footballing qualities because he is a top player.
“The Bavarians have to decide whether they need his role and what he is worth to them. He is sure to bring everything FC Bayern needs. But its possible transfer must also fit into the financial framework.
“He is still in the development phase and has bugs in his game. But that’s normal too. What I can say: He is currently in good hands in Leverkusen.
“There he can develop his personality in peace. At FC Bayern you need other characteristics to assert yourself. Just being good is not enough there.”
Asked to expand on his opinion of Coutinho, Ballack declared that the Brazilian ‘needs to repay the faith shown in him by the club’ after being signed from Barcelona on loan.
Meanwhile, former Everton boss Sam Allardyce claims that nobody will admit that Jurgen Klopp’s champions-in-waiting Liverpool play long-ball football.
Allardyce was often criticised for his direct style of football during his time long time in management, but the ex-England boss insists that the Reds are similar in their desire to get the ball from back-to-front quickly.
And although Allardyce believes people are unwilling to comment on it, given Liverpool’s brilliant record this season, he suggests more should be made of Klopp’s long-ball football. Read more…