This article is part of Football FanCast’s Expert Roundup feature, which provides three quotes from those in the know in order to illuminate fundamental strengths, weaknesses, quirks, kinks, stylistic comparisons and general observations of transfer targets and confirmed signings.
West Ham United confirmed the £45m club record signing of Sebastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt earlier this week.
The London Stadium outfit have said goodbye to Andy Carroll, Lucas Perez and Marko Arnautovic this summer and, when West Ham revealed that Javier Hernandez will wear the number 9 for the 2019/20 season, fans were surely concerned that the Mexican would be the club’s first choice striker.
However, with 25-year-old Haller moving to east London, Chicharito will have stark competition for a place in Pellegrini’s starting XI.
Given the size of the 6ft 3 powerhouse’s price tag, expectations will understandably be high, especially when you consider the impact Felipe Anderson made in his first season after becoming the club’s record signing.
It will be intriguing to see how he performs this season, but what can the fans expect from their new addition?
Here’s what those in the know have had to say about his talent…
Before the deal had been struck, Kevin Hatchard had this to say while speaking to talkSPORT:
“I think he’s a super player. He’s a centre-forward who is great at bringing others into play […] His all-round game is great; he’s good in the air and a really good goalscorer. I think he’d be an absolute steal if West Ham could get him […] If they can get it done, I think it could be one of the deals of the season.”
Indeed, the former FC Utrecht man netted 20 goals last term and also provided an impressive 12 assists, totalling 32 goal contributions in just 41 games across all competitions.
Haller is a physical force to be reckoned with at 6ft 3, and his ability to hold up play should help him bring the likes of Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini into play.
This feature of his game is something the player shares with new Shanghai SIPG man Arnautovic, who is ‘strong’ at holding up the ball according to WhoScored, and registered five assists last term. Hopefully Haller’s stay will be longer.
The Eagles boss was full of praise for a player who made huge improvements last season:
“Haller’s ball control wasn’t the best in pre-season, he was losing a lot of balls. He always had fight in him, but the way he’s now bossing the ball, winning challenges and taking on players – he’s come on leaps and bounds.”
Despite Haller’s seemingly immobile frame, the number 9 completed 1 dribble per game last term – testament to his ability to take on his man, as Hutter says.
He also wins an incredible 6.9 aerial duels per game, so it seems he is fully capable of making a nuisance of himself in the final third.
It sure sounds as though West Ham are getting a perfectly-rounded striker here.
Kovac, who managed Eintracht Frankfurt between 2016 and 2018, said of the powerful forward:
“A bulldozer couldn’t knock him over.”
While the likes of Pep Guardiola will strive to turn the game into an art form, there will always be a place in the Premier League for big, bustling strikers and Haller seems to fit the bill perfectly.
There are plenty more strings to the former France youth international’s bow beyond his physicality, but Kovac’s assessment suggests that the strongest and most imposing central defenders will struggle to contend with him.
Having a striker whom opposition defenders simply bounce off can be an invaluable weapon to have in the armoury.
Haller could well make the Hammers faithful forget all about Arnautovic next season.