In Focus: Sebastien Haller

Haller, born on 22nd June 1994, having risen through the ranks at Auxerre made his professional debut on 27th July 2012 in the teams opening league match of the 2012-13 season.

On 24th December 2014, Haller had moved to Dutch Eredivisie side FC Utrecht, initially on loan and then being signed at the end of the season. Haller was voted winner of the Di Tommaso Trophy in 2015 by the supporters – Utrecht’s player of the year award.

By the time Sebastien had signed for Eintracht Frankfurt on 15th may 2017, he had scored 33 goals from 77 appearances, including 15 league goals and 9 assists during the 2018-19 Bundesliga season. Hailed as a goal machine during his time in the Bundesliga, Frankfurt team mate Jonathan de Guzman said after Haller’s point saving contribution against Nuremburg “Bringing in Haller, obviously gives you a bit more strength up front. He can hold the ball, he is big and he showed his quality.”

Haller has been compared to French attacking great David Trezeguet being of similar height and style of play, holding the ball up and setting up teammates if they have a clearer path to goal. Sebastian can score with both feet and is apparently skilled at over head kicks, winning goal of the year in the 2017 season.

Haller then signed for West Ham United on 17th July 2019 for a record fee of £45m on a 5 year deal. Seen as a statement of intent from the club, along with the signings of Anderson, Diop and Fornals. Sebastian definitely came with a great reputation for being a handful and bullying defenders with his physicality. Said to be a highly intelligent player, unselfish and capable of bringing the best of other players around him and also a prolific goalscorer it looked as if Pellegrini was putting together a top six challenging team, certainly some football commentators were suggesting West Ham would be in a battle for European places this season.

After 6 games West Ham stood 5th in the league, above Spurs, Chelsea and Man U and equal on points with Arsenal and only 2 points and 2 places from the top 3. As we know, from the end of September our season imploded and we are left fighting for our Premier League status before the season was put on hold in March this year. At that point, Haller had scored 3 goals, including a brace away to Watford. By the time the season was suspended Haller had scored 7 goals with 1 assist, with 25 shots on target.

Haller said of his move to London Stadium “I thought a lot about European football. I wanted it. But in a career, you have to take everything into account. You have to think holistically. And West Ham was a real opportunity.”

Sebastian also said “The thought of playing in front of 60,000 here was a big attraction, it’s the thing that can push you to give 10 per cent more in every game. As long as the fans are here supporting the team, it’s great.”

But there are reports that Haller has not settled in London with his son, who was born soon after arriving in London having health issues that both he and his wife are struggling with. Previously Haller has been at his best as part of a two or three man striker partnership, whereas at West Ham he is often in an unfamiliar long striker role. Maybe the pressure of being the clubs record signing and there being no real striker back up if he is injured. This has fuelled rumours that the club are looking to offload the striker, even if his value has dropped, as Moyes evaluates what he needs for next season.

Haller has his critics, but has he become another expensive mistake in the clubs rather chaotic transfer policy? What do we think? Is there any truth to the rumours? Sometimes players take time to settle in the Premier League and of course there is the pressure – has the club done enough to support Haller? Will we see him pull on the claret and blue at the restart of football?

Published by dawudmarsh

Photographer based in London.

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