Having failed to sign a much-needed striker in the January transfer window, West Ham United are set to compete for a top-four finish, the FA Cup and Europa League with one senior striker in Michail Antonio.
David Moyes’ side have already played 37 matches across all competitions so far this season as we approach March and a lack of depth in the centre-forward position could prove incredibly costly.
It’s been just over a year since the East London club opted to part ways with striker Sebastien Haller who joined Dutch giants Ajax for £20.25m having arrived at the London Stadium in summer 2019 for a club-record fee of £45m.
The Ivorian has made a major impact in Amsterdam, scoring 42 goals in 52 appearances for Ajax, suggesting that West Ham and David Moyes should’ve been more patient with the striker and are now suffering the consequences.
Haller has scored 148 goals in 338 appearances across his career thus far, with 14 of those coming for the Irons for whom the 27-year-old made 54 appearances, giving the centre-forward an average of a goal every 2.28 games. However, his average in East London was almost twice as slow, scoring every 3.86 games.
This week, the Ajax hotshot spoke to The Guardian to reflect on his time in the English capital, saying: “I was brought in by Manuel Pellegrini but then David Moyes came and we got in a situation where we were … like trapped together.
“I was playing in a system that I didn’t really enjoy. Moyes preferred someone like [Michail] Antonio up front, and I’m super happy he [Antonio]’s doing so well; I am for all the guys at West Ham. I had a good time there with them but I was also really mad at the situation, [with] the way we were playing, the way I was playing, the way I was feeling…”
Remarkably, having never played in the Champions League before this season, the striker became the highest debutant goal scorer in the competition’s group stage, scoring ten goals in Ajax’s six group matches.
After his goal against Benfica on Wednesday, the Ivorian remains the top scorer in Europe’s elite competition, ahead of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.
Even after his Ajax debut against PSV last season, manager Erik Ten Hag, who Haller played under at FC Utrecht, admitted that the striker had “already proven his worth.” 51 appearances and 42 goals later, he certainly has.
Seeing the 27-year-old’s fortunes improve so dramatically must leave David Moyes and West Ham fans scratching their heads. Granted, maybe the Ivorian wasn’t exactly the type of striker the Scotsman wanted in his side.
However, it certainly feels as though, with nine-goal Antonio the only senior striker amongst the Hammers’ ranks, the East London outfit parted ways with Haller slightly prematurely.