Rio Ferdinand insists Kai Havertz “will get there” for Chelsea and likened him to one of his former Manchester United teammates.
The German – signed for £72million from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer – has struggled for form and fitness in his first season at Stamford Bridge, but is starting to find the form which made him one of the hottest young talents in Europe last season.
And Ferdinand was impressed with his display as Chelsea overcame Atletico Madrid 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
“Not all players come here and hit the ground running. Buy you can see the quality is there,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“We saw when he was at Bayer Leverkusen in previous years that he is a hugely talented footballer and it is going to take him time.
“But in the end, he will get there because he is somebody who has a good feel for the game.”
Havertz’s performance on Wednesday – which helped Chelsea to a 3-0 aggregate win – reminded Ferdinand of Dimitar Berbatov, who played with the BT Sport pundit under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
“He reminds me a little of [Dimitar] Berbatov in how cool, calm and collected he is,” he continued.
“He is very silky, he plays on the edge of the game a little bit at times, and drifts about.
“Once he gets that part of his game, I think everything will fall into place.”
Havertz was just one of a number of excellent performers for Chelsea on the night and manager Thomas Tuchel lauded the “unbelievable” showing from his side.
“Very good performance, unbelievable effort, even from the guys in the stands… could feel we totally wanted it,” Tuchel said.
“They tried to pressure us high in the first half but opened up some spaces in the back of the midfield and we could exploit it. Second half there were minutes where we suffered but we were ready to do what was necessary to win.
“We missed Andrea Christensen today, Thiago for many weeks – big personalities. I tell Kurt Zouma this morning he plays and he steps up. It’s about team work, courage and reliability of feeling safe around each other.
“Is it a penalty? (Azpilicueta foul) Azpi got a bit frightened because his ball was short, I did not see it but was a bit frightened.
“We know if we cannot find solutions with offensive play we can rely on our physical game. We were absolutely not afraid to put it on a physical level if we don’t get offensive solutions and we enjoyed the battle. The guys were totally on and sharp, we were super hungry to go through.
“Quarter-final means there’s only four games – it’s a big step and feels excellent.”