After a decade of trying and failing to find a reliable striker, West Ham’s pursuit seemed to be over when they signed Sebastien Haller for the club’s record amount.
Signed for a whopping £ 45million on a five-year contract, Haller looked like some success for West Ham after scoring the goals for Eintracht Frankfurt, playing a key role in a DFB-Pokal win and a half memorable Europa League final.
Haller was set to be called up by the France national team and moved to the Premier League in 2019 for more visibility, but, after just a season and a half at the London Stadium, he was out.
Almost a year after Haller’s move to Ajax for half of what West Ham paid for him, things couldn’t be more different.
Now an Ivorian international, he is starting to give the impression that he is worth every penny of the record of the club West Ham, dominating the Eredivisie for Ajax, while lighting up the Champions League.
His start to life in Europe’s premier club tournament was so good that he edged out Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland to lead the Champions League goalscoring table with just six goals. three games.
No player has ever had such a goal-laden competitive start to their life.
Dutch champions Ajax faced Portuguese champions Sporting in their European opener, Haller returning home four times to join an elite roster of 15 players to score four or more goals in history of the competition.
Then Turkish champions Besiktas, and Ajax won once again, scoring again in the 2-0 win, with manager Erik ten Hag’s side looking as good as the team that ‘he made up for their 2019 Champions League semi-final.
He scored again when Ajax blew up Borussia Dortmund 4-0, where he also scored two goals and created five more chances.
Domestically, things are equally impressive, with Haller nearly equaling his number of games played with goal contributions, scoring 17 times and assisting seven times in just 29 Eredivisie appearances.
This season alone, he has six in nine games.
The contrast between Haller’s West Ham form and what he displays at Ajax is stark, but it is easily explained by one well-known Ajax fan – @TheEuropeanLad on Twitter – said talkSPORT.
“Sebastien Haller is a weird story, because when you see him play you will think ‘Hmm, this guy is not that good at football’,” he said.
“But on the other hand, he’s an incredible goalscorer and he’s extremely productive for Ajax.
“In the league he has been amazing from day one, he has helped, he has scored and he has done it so far.”
Haller has scored 14 goals in 54 games for West Ham, a better rate than other Hammers signings like Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez, but not enough for the club to decide not to cut losses.
Still, as each Ajax game goes by, it becomes increasingly clear that West Ham abused their record signing, which is easily explained from a Dutch perspective.
“In West Ham he looked more like a lantern pole, they just put him forward and they put him on an island and they threw long balls at him,” one explained to talkSPORT.
“It doesn’t work with him because he doesn’t have the technical ability to do anything far from the goal, he can’t dribble well, he’s not very fast, he doesn’t have any skill.
“So what has to happen is you have to build a team around him with a lot of movement and a lot of depth on the wings, and you need a creative number 10 behind him.
“And when you do that a lot of space opens up and he will have his chances in every game and he’s a good finisher, that’s a good aspect, he will finish his chances.
” At the sports [in September] he scored four goals because we were attacking, attacking, attacking and we have so much movement and creativity in the team that he will always have his chances.
“That’s the big difference with West Ham, because there he wasn’t used like that and that’s why he’s so successful at Ajax, because we have a team very creative and offensive, and as a forward it’s just heaven because you will get so many chances in every game.
Then it’s PSV and Heracles for Haller and Ajax, with the highly anticipated rematch with Dortmund on November 3.
Haller was linked with Dortmund ahead of the game, with Ten Hag playing down the rumors, while adding: “What I can say is that it would be very expensive.”
There is an understatement for you.
Play talkSPORT Selector and you could win a lot of money
- Win a share of £ 25,000 +
- Pick a Premier League team to win each week
- Entrances cost £ 10
- 18+ please play responsibly, gambleaware.org
- register here