Stop the presses, West Ham United have finally signed a bona fide, out-and-out centre-forward; a player capable of not only leading the line but actually finishing off chances too.
With Sebastien Haller’s £45m transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt now completed the Hammers possess a genuine and reliable threat up front and very possibly the solution to a long-standing problem area that has been their undoing in recent seasons.
Despite the fine football orchestrated by Manuel Pellegrini last term the Chilean saw his slim roster of strikers misfire more times than not with the side’s leading goal-scorer Marko Arnautovic ultimately finishing with an underwhelming ten. This lack of prolificacy goes right back to the start of the century: the last occasion a West Ham player scored 15 or more league goals was Paolo Di Canio in 1999/00.
Acting as the focal point for an entertaining Eintracht side Haller managed to comfortably reach that target last season in the Bundesliga and so beneficial would his goals be should he continue in that vein. There is already talk of the 25-year-old proving the difference and elevating the Hammers towards top six contention.
Watch West Ham United Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv Below
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First it’s incumbent to lay out exactly who West Ham’s record signing is and, just as pertinently, how he compares to their recently departed star man Arnautovic.
Beginning with the enigmatic Austrian it should be stated in his defence that his palette of skills does not naturally lend itself to playing a centre-forward role in the traditional sense. Rather, Arnautovic thrives when he is a roaming creator-in-chief and ironically he would have presumably thrived considerably more had he been partnered alongside Haller prior to his £23m switch to the Chinese Super League. With this in mind his 21 goals in 59 Premier League appearances is deserving of praise.
But it’s long been felt that should the Hammers somehow combine the enterprise of Arnautovic and the poaching instincts of Javier Hernandez they would have the perfect front-man and the exciting news for the fans is that with Haller they might just have that blend.
It is not just his 15 goals last season that impress: his 9 assists stand out too; more than double the amount his predecessor at the London Stadium managed. Haller even trumps Arnautovic in the dribbling stakes, but it’s the former French Under 21 international’s aerial prowess that truly jumps from the stats. It’s an attribute just as useful in the defending of set-pieces and the Hammers will be all the stronger for it.
Most encouragingly of all, when all of these figures are combined it amounts to Sebastien Haller being the fifth most effective player in the Bundesliga throughout 2018/19 as per Whoscored. He is a man of substantial quality hitting his peak.
Arnautovic was a hero to the hammers in his two years in East London. It surely won’t be long though before the cry goes up – Marko who?