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Talking Tactics

West Ham can build team around Haller

Adrian Clarke 25 Jul 2019
Sebastien Haller, West Ham United

Adrian Clarke says French striker has the pace, skill and aerial prowess to thrive at London Stadium

Adrian Clarke looks at summer signings who can have a big impact for their clubs in 2019/20.

Sebastien Haller

West Ham United have broken their transfer record to replace Marko Arnautovic and their new signing can offer even more than the departed Austrian.

Haller was outstanding for Eintracht Frankfurt last season, providing 15 goals and nine assists in 29 Bundesliga appearances. He also hit the net five times in the UEFA Europa League.

He boasts all the qualities of a complete centre-forward.

Haller is strong in the air, quick, skilful, excellent at linking up with midfielders and shows touches of flair.

If the 25-year-old can reproduce his 2018/19 form in the Premier League, he will soon be a hit with West Ham fans.

With Andy Carroll only making 12 Premier League appearances last season, I highlighted earlier this month how the Hammers sorely missed an aerial threat.

Manuel Pellegrini's new signing can fill that void. In fact, statistically the 6ft 2in recruit poses a similar threat from headers as Carroll.

Aerial duels won 2018/19
Player Total Per 90min
Sebastien Haller 201 8.9
Michail Antonio 80 3.4
Andy Carroll 46 9.1
Marko Arnautovic 24 1.1
Chicharito 12 0.8

That should encourage West Ham's full-backs, wingers and central midfielders to deliver more crosses.

Haller is especially adept at knocking the ball down for team-mates inside the area and flicks it on well both in the air and on the deck.

That ought to give the Hammers midfielders confidence to make supporting forward runs.

Haller should start the season with great self-belief after directly contributing to a goal every 90.9 minutes last season.

He is a natural predator but can also produce moments of magic, having scored a couple of magnificent volleys last season and had the confidence to round the 'keeper in 1v1 situations.

Haller also has the talent to unlock defences with a pass or cross.

It is hard to envisage anything but success for him at London Stadium.

Haller's Bundesliga stats
2018/19  Total 2018/19  Total
Mins played 2181 Goals and assists 24
Shots, incl blocks 53 Mins/goal involvement 90.9
Shot conversion, inc blocks 28.3% Chances created/90 1.6

Pellegrini now has an interesting tactical conundrum.

Haller performed at his best alongside a strike partner, Luka Jovic, last season.

While the Frenchman has the tools to lead the line on his own in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Pellegrini must be pondering a switch to 4-4-2 to make best use of his latest signing.

The manager used 4-4-2 on 10 occasions in 2018/19. So it would be no surprise if that becomes a more permanent shape.

Chicharito, Andriy Yarmolenko and Michail Antonio are possible strike partners.

Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson or Pablo Fornals could also be pushed forward to join Haller in attack.

With his class, the Frenchman is a player West Ham can build their team around.

Also in this series

Part 2: Rodri a strong successor to Fernandinho
Part 3: Willing runner Wesley ready for the top flight
Part 4: James to change pace of Man Utd play
Part 5: Joelinton can be Newcastle's very own Firmino
Part 6: Ndombele can help Spurs move into higher gear
Part 7: Pepe play will bring wow factor to Arsenal
Part 8: Kean will give Everton new dimension

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