Earlier this month West Ham confirmed the club-record signing of Sebastien Haller, a striker whose stellar form in 2018/19 clearly caught the eye of Manuel Pellegrini and co.
The 25-year-old chalked up an astonishing 20 goals – equal to the league tallies of Arnautovic, Javier Hernandez and Lucas Perez combined – and 12 assists in 41 appearances across all competitions in the last campaign.
At the same time, he established a lethal partnership up front with Real Madrid new boy, Luka Jovic, who scored 17 league goals himself.
With the departures of Andy Carroll and Perez preceding Arnautovic’s bitter exit, the Hammers were in desperate need of reinforcements up front, but there is little doubt that Haller can be more than just a replacement for the aforementioned names; the former FC Utrecht man can be an upgrade.
Having failed in their attempts to bring Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette to the club back in 2016, the Hammers may finally be getting the big-name striker they’ve been looking for.
But what can Haller bring to the London Stadium besides goals?
Having finally lost their patience with the former Newcastle striker, West Ham might have rid themselves of a sick-note striker by releasing 30-year-old Carroll this summer.
However, the towering hitman at least had his uses when the Hammers were forced to find ugly ways to score.
The big number 9 won 3.8 aerial duels per game last term – the most of any West Ham player – and this dominance needed to be replaced.
Fortunately, Haller has strength and power in abundance, as proven by his incredible 6.8 aerial duels won per game in 2018/19, putting Carroll’s output to shame.
Unlike Carroll, the former France youth international isn’t just a bully, though – his 1 dribble per game shows that he has the technical ability to beat a man, while Carroll’s sole glimpse of ingenuity in a West Ham shirt was that overhead kick he executed against Crystal Palace.
Arnautovic’s 6 foot 4 frame enables him to bounce through challenges before using a potent blend of strength and vision to create opportunities for both himself and his teammates, as evidenced by his 1.3 key passes per game last term.
Despite being a goalscorer first and foremost the Austrian also provided four assists, proving crucial in both the creation and execution of chances.
Haller’s influence in the final third was similar. He completed 1.3 key passes per game, a return bettered by only Hoffenheim’s Joelinton and Werder Bremen’s Max Kruse in 2018/19 when ranking forwards who made more than 15 appearances.
The behemoth hitman’s ability to pick out a pass for a teammate will surely see Felipe Anderson match or surpass his ten strikes last term, while he is bound to pick up a few assists throughout the season.
Premier League strikers such as Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino, who play in high-pressing systems and are known for their ability to close down and dispossess defenders, are a huge asset to their sides.
And Haller could bring a similar intensity to those sorts of names at the London Stadium.
In comparison, Arnautovic, who is renowned for his bullish approach to centre-forward play, made 0.3 tackles and 1.1 fouls.
It would seem that the Hammers are getting a player who offers their former number 7’s physical and creative abilities and some.
Even better, he arrives without the baggage.