Financial TimesFinancial Times

A malaise can be worse than a crisis

By Janan Ganesh

01 Sep 2023 · 3 min read

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.

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