FROM: Eintracht Frankfurt
TO: West Ham
2018/19 appearances: 41
Sébastien Haller’s professional career began in the 2012/13 season in which he signed for French side Auxerre, initially playing for the second team before being promoted to first team action. In 57 appearances, he scored 8 goals with 3 assists. During December of the 2014/15 season, Haller was sent out on loan to Dutch side Utrecht, where he signed permanently at the end of the same season. In the 98 appearances he made, he managed an extremely impressive 51 goals and 17 assists. These numbers Eintrachted the attention of Frankfurt, who signed him for the start of the 2017/18 season. Before agreeing to join West Ham, he played 2 full seasons for Frankfurt:
17/18 – 36 apps, 13 goals, 7 assists
18/19 – 41 apps, 20 goals, 12 assists
Last season saw 32 goal involvements across all competitions for Haller, meaning he contributed to a goal scored every 97 minutes played. In comparison, departing West Ham forward, Marko Arnautovic, contributed a goal or assist every 137 minutes. Chicharito, Haller’s primary competiton for a starting spot, recorded an attacking return every 143 minutes across all competitions for the Hammers last season, therefore 46 minutes slower than Haller.
At Frankfurt, Haller started in a striking partnership alongside recently departed, Luka Jovic. Jovic has received the majority of the limelight after his 17 goals saw him become joint 3rd top Bundesliga goalscorer for the 18/19 season despite Frankfurt finishing 7th, which earned him a move to Real Madrid. However, combining league goals and assists, Haller contributed to 24 goals, 2 more than Jovic’s total.
Haller is a very strong player who uses his large frame to help him when facing away from goal. When the ball is played into his feet, he is more often than not easily able to shrug off a marker and make a simple pass or a flick-on to a teammate. However, he is not simply limited to being the ‘big man’ up top, as he is incredibly mobile and agile for a player of his size, being able to accelerate quickly, meaning he will often look to spin in behind his marker once he has the ball under control. His height (6′ 3″) also makes it easier for him to control the ball on his chest when it is played into him aerially, something which he does very well. One of his favourite moves appears to involve coming short for the ball, controlling it with his chest, before turning and looking to play a pass into the space he created for a teammate through dragging a defender out to follow his initial movement. He averaged 6.9 aerials won per game last season, the 3rd highest number recorded across the whole of Europe behind Cardiff City’s Callum Paterson and Cagliari’s Leonardo Pavoletti.
Physical presence and aerial ability are clearly both massive parts of his game, however, as shown by the number of assists he has recorded in addition to his goals, his link-up play with teammates is also of the highest quality. He averaged 27.1 passes per game last season in comparison to Arnautovic’s 22.4 and Chicharito’s 12.9, highlighting his contribution to the attacking phase aside from simply scoring goals.
His goalscoring record shows that he has a natural eye for goal, but this is massively helped by the range of types of goal he can score. He is right-footed but is fairly comfortable using his left and as mentioned, very comfortable using his head. Haller is also a calm penalty taker and capable of producing goals with acrobatic attempts.
It’s difficult to pinpoint any great weaknesses of Haller’s game, however he is sometimes criticised for keeping the ball for too long when a seemingly easy pass or through-ball was on. This is by no means a massive criticism as he often gets these decisions right, however, there is still some room for improvement in his decision-making over 90 minutes.
Role at West Ham
Joining West Ham, it is expected that he will line-up as a lone striker in 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 system and that he was purchased as Arnautovic’s replacement rather than any kind of back-up. Unfortunately for Chicharito fans, this is likely to mean that his role of being a rotated squad player will continue. Haller has played all of his recent football as part of a striking duo so he will have to adjust his game in some respects to cater for the change in role, but not massively.
With the signing of Pablo Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini coming back from recent injuries and Felipe Anderson moving into his second season with the Hammers, West Ham have suddenly got what is a very exciting attacking line-up. Signing now, allows Haller time to adapt to his new teammates and Pellegrini’s tactical system throughout pre-season and hopefully we will see him able to link-up with the aforementioned players to the same level he did with Jovic and co. at Frankfurt.
This is a very smart piece of business from West Ham and once he gets used to the playing styles of his new teammates, I am fully expecting Haller to take fantastically well to Premier League life and use his previously mentioned key traits to score a minimum of 12 league goals.
Written by Nick Pasquet
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nick_FootballPA