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Kai Havertz earns James Tavernier rave review

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James Tavernier hopes to see a Europa League last-16 shootout between top ?transfer targets Kai Havertz and Alfredo Morelos on Thursday night.

Rangers head to Germany to finally complete their four-month delayed second-leg tie against Bayer Leverkusen following a 3-1 defeat in the first game.

Wonderkid Havertz’s penalty set Peter Bosz’s men on the way to?victory as they inflicted a first home European defeat on Steven Gerrard’s men in 18 matches.

The 21-year-old has been at the?centre of intense transfer speculation with Chelsea reportedly closing?in on an £80million deal for the?attacking midfielder.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, who defeated Leverkusen in the German Cup Final, are also? interested in the man who has scored 17 goals in all competitions this? season to help them finish fifth?in the Bundesliga.

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But Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes is adamant Havertz won’t be sold before Thursday.

He said: “We have already said? several times we are going to finish the season with our whole team and that includes Kai. It is obvious to us.”

Gers skipper Tavernier hopes that is true as he wants to test himself against one of the world’s best young talents and is praying their own ?talisman Morelos is also running out against him at the BayArena.

The Colombian is also hot property with Lille preparing a megabucks move to lure him away from Govan but Tav hopes they can hold on to him at least for Thursday’s trip to the North Rhine-Westphalia region.

Following yesterday’s Scottish? Premiership opener at Aberdeen, attention now turns to the European arena and Tavernier said: “Kai is a young, gifted footballer.

(Image: PA)

“He’s shown the rest of the world his qualities and ability at a young age and caught the interest of big-name clubs. You always want to play against the best players so you don’t want to see them leave when you come across them and I hope he stays.

“If we can play against him then it’s one of those nights you know you’re up against the best and you have to stand up to it.

“From our own point of view, Alfredo has been a great player I’ve played with over the last few years.

“He has come on in leaps and bounds with his goals and his contribution to the team and I hope we can keep him for this game.

“There’s speculation around him but that’s up to other people to deal with. He has been a great asset.”

Tavernier knows Gers face a huge task with three goals required against the Germans but insists the ?Light Blues can take? confidence from their Euro form over the last two years.

Gerrard’s men pulled off a stunning win in Braga in the last round and have saved some of their best performances for the continent under the? current boss.

Tavernier admitted: “Bayer Leverkusen are? definitely up there with the best teams we’ve faced in Europe. They’ve got some great young talent and a great squad, although we’ve played a lot of top teams during our campaigns in the last two years. It will be a tough test going over to ?Germany but we’re raring to go.

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“We’ve been waiting a long time for football to come back and we’re all looking forward to it.

“It’s going to take a very good?performance from us.

“We’re obviously on the back foot to progress but we’ve always done well in European football and had a great pre-season and good tests against Lyon and Nice.

“During the Europa League?campaign we’ve always gone toe to toe and we need to go over there and give it our all and see how it goes – but hopefully we can bring it back.

“German football was the first league to kick off during what was a crazy time but I watched the games so had the chance to watch Bayer Leverkusen.

“They’ve got a talented squad but I don’t know if they? will lose any players before we play them. We’ve added to our squad and had great time to prepare during pre-season and in the off-season to focus on ourselves and our fitness.

“We’ve had some great nights in European football and I believe we can deliver the gameplan needed to try to bring the tie back.

“It’s a 90-minute game and we know we have to shut up shop at the back because if we concede we’re really pushing ourselves.

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“We need to keep a clean sheet and create chances to give the midfielders and attackers the opportunity to score goals right from the first whistle.

“It’s been an incredible journey we’ve been on from last season into this?season with the teams we’ve overcome and that gives us belief and confidence that we can come across these giants in European ?football and go toe to toe.

“It will be a case of who wants it more on the night and I know our?players are so hungry to get?the result and hopefully we can ?create chances.”

Tavernier limped off five minutes from the end of the first leg as he nursed a foot injury that had kept him out of the previous game at Ross County.

The 28-year-old is fully fit and firing on all cylinders for the return. He said: “I tried to go as long as I could in the first leg but my foot swelled up. I’m rarely injured but when I do get injured it’s a nightmare.”




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