The new Germany boss raised eyebrows when his German side lined up with Arsenal forward Havertz in defence for their final match of the current international break.
It looked like the move could have been a stroke of genius when Havertz scored just five minutes into the game, but he struggled at times in an unfamiliar position throughout the rest of the tie with Germany conceding three times in their 3-2 defeat and the 24-year-old giving away the penalty that led to the final goal.
Nagelsmann was pleased with Havertz’s efforts, insisting that the player ‘wanted’ to play the role that and he was ‘probably our best player’ despite playing left back for the first time in his career.
But Matthaus, who played 150 times for Germany between 1980 and 2000, criticised the call, insisting in his latest Sky Sports column it should be the last time the experiment happens.
Kai Havertz (right) should not line up in defence again for his country, former Germany star Lothar Matthaus has claimed
Matthaus (pictured) said that a player of Havertz's quality should be utilised in forward positions for his side
Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann said praised the 24-year-old for his showing in his side's friendly defeat to Turkey
‘Havertz brings a lot of quality, but he was not trained in this position, but in the offensive and mainly centrally,’ he wrote. ‘I accept that the national coach wanted to try something out, but I hope it doesn't happen again - even though Havertz was one of the better players against Turkey.
‘If I want to have his qualities in the team, I have to find a place where he can show the extra class that he partly embodied during the last World Cup.’
‘It can't be a permanent solution if I suddenly let one of the best German offensive players of recent years play full-back. This is also a slap in the face to those who last played there, even if there were problems on the left side of the defense recently.’
Nagelsmann said that Havertz was one of his side's best playing despite giving away a penalty
He hinted that the forward could be used in defence at Euro 2024 to increase his chances of being involved
Nagelsmann, who was only appointed Germany manager earlier this year, saw things differently, however.
With his host nation already qualified for Euro 2024 this summer, expectations are high for them to improve on their performance at the Qatar World Cup, which saw them knocked out in the group stage with just one win to their names.
And with plenty of attacking talent on show, Nagelsmann hinted that Havertz playing in defence could be a way to get him into the team for the tournament.
‘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,’ he said. ‘For a first time in an unfamiliar position, he did extremely well and probably was our best player.’
Havertz has struggled for Arsenal since joining the club in the summer, scoring just once so far
Havertz has had a difficult time of things since moving to the Premier League when he joined Chelsea for £71milion from Bayer Leverkusen in 2020.
Despite scoring the winning goal in the 2021 Champions League final, he failed to live up to expectations in his three years at the club before moving to Arsenal for £65million this summer.
It was clear Gunners boss Mikel Arteta had ideas to play him in a deeper role than he had been used at Chelsea, but he struggled to adapt and has found himself out of the side more often than he would have liked.
Havertz has scored one goal in 19 games for Arsenal so far this season.
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