It is late afternoon at the Emirates Stadium when the most polarising footballer in the Premier League makes a risk-averse pass. The groans. Oh, the cacophonous groans. Reader, I pitied him. Some patrons at Arsenal aren’t, so far, “having” Kai Havertz.
The cheekbones don’t help. Nor does the elegant languor. You always think he should be on a Milanese catwalk in a full-length matt black Issey Miyake trench coat. But there is more going on here than optical prejudice. People regard Havertz as an underachiever: less than the sum of his exquisite parts. At 24, he is having a high-class career, just not the Ballon d’Or-winning one that seemed his natural arc as a teenager. This isn’t a crisis. It is a malaise.