£45 million. That’s the price West Ham United paid for Sebastien Haller during the 2019 summer transfer window. Well, the 2019/20 campaign may have come to an abrupt halt, but it’s time to see if the Frenchman has delivered in east London.
When Haller arrived at London Stadium, there was a sense that this was the statement of intent the claret and blue faithful have been crying out for. The 25-year-old became West Ham’s most expensive signing in history, but was it worth it?
The season prior to his switch to the Hammers, Haller endured a thoroughly successful 2018/19 campaign with Eintracht Frankfurt. The German side finished seventh in the Bundesliga and reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, losing out to Chelsea via a penalty shoot-out.
In the 2018/19 season, Haller scored 15 goals and registered nine assists in 29 Bundesliga appearances. The France striker operated with a partner, Luka Jovic, and both complimented each other’s style and produced a formidable partnership.
However, in 27 Premier League appearances for West Ham, the 25-year-old has scored seven goals and produced just one assist. Haller’s output has decreased and it’s clear to see why – he is lacking a strike partner.
Under Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes this season, the Hammers have often deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation with Haller the focal point. But that just leaves him isolated and does not acquire enough support in 90 minutes to make a meaningful impact.
Looking more at the specifics, according to WhoScored, Haller averaged 1.9 shots per game in the league for Frankfurt while averaging 1.3 key passes and 1.0 dribbles. However, for the Irons so far, he has averaged 1.9 shots per game, 0.9 key passes 0.9 dribbles.
For Frankfurt, Haller on average was fouled 1.5 times per league match, dispossessed 1.7 times and averaged 3.0 unsuccessful touches. For West Ham, the France striker on average has been fouled 1.4 times, dispossessed 1.1 times and averages 2.1 unsuccessful touches per match.
Overall, those stats are not too dissimilar; the largest difference has not been in his individual play when in possession of the ball, but the team’s influence and approach. A more defensive set-up in east London compared to Haller’s time in Germany has restricted his output significantly.
The solution? Operate with two strikers. West Ham fans have seen glimpses of 4-4-2 being utilised in recent weeks with Michail Antonio providing support for Haller; an improvement in the Frenchman’s performances has not been a coincidence. Provide him with support and he will thrive, simple.