West Ham have made Sébastien Haller their most expensive signing after prizing him away from Eintracht Frankfurt.
The 25-year-old French marksman has penned a five-year contract, with his former Bundesliga employer subsequently collecting £45m.
His arrival, coupled with other key signings, has captured the imagination with many feeling he could propel Manuel Pellegrini’s side to a top 10 finish or even more.
Since breaking through at Dutch outfit FC Utrecht he’s built a goalscoring reputation, averaging 13 league goals per season, but how does Haller compare to Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud, Roberto Firmino, Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane – the men who lead the line for the ‘big six’?
The game’s most important art form is goal scoring. Those capable of putting the ball into the net are naturally paid the big bucks. Some of Europe’s best currently ply their trade in England’s top division. And, it goes without saying, they are concentrated in the ‘big six’ clubs. Despite that, last season none of those regularly playing centre-forward shared the golden boot; that honour went to wide-men Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – the latter, traditionally a centre-forward, spent much of last season playing out wide.
That being said, all but Giroud (2) reached double figures in terms of goals excluding penalties. Sergio Aguero (19) took top billing with Haller (12) only behind north London rivals Kane and Lacazette, both scoring 13 goals. When it came to being a ‘fox in the box’ Haller (15) was beaten by Aguero (19) who alongside Kane proved to be dangerous from outside the area. In terms of aerial supremacy, this was Firmino’s domain. The versatile forward bagged four headed goals with everyone bar Lacazette (0) and Giroud (1) bagging two.
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There’s nothing more frustrating than a wasteful striker. Giroud (40%) – who in his defence struggled for playing time last season at Chelsea – and Lacazette (48.39%) were the only individuals whose shooting accuracy (excluding blocks) fell below 50%. Lukaku (69.57%), much-maligned during his 2018/19 campaign at Old Trafford, turned out to be the most accurate with Haller (60.98%) trailing Firmino (61.4%).
Regarding conversion rates, Haller – who bagged 15 goals across 29 league outings – comes first with an impressive 31.58%. At the other end was Giroud (8%), with Lukaku (26.09%) nearest to the French striker. Haller also impressed when it came to big chances scored (14). His total was matched by Aguero. Both also missed the same amount (10), though Lukaku (15) surpassed them.
Creativity and build-up play
No longer are strikers just expected to score goals even if it is what they’re solely judged on. Football, more than ever, is a team effort. The number nine must carry their fair share of the load in terms of build-up and creativity given they are predominantly stationed in the final third. Aguero and Lacazette created the most goals from open play (8) with Haller (7) not far off. Lukaku, meanwhile, produced zero though he created no fewer than 21 chances, which still pales into insignificance.
Right at the front is Firmino (43), who performs as Liverpool’s ‘false nine’, with Haller (38) again second best. His passing accuracy (63.44%), though, is way off Aguero (84.82%), who plays under a manager hellbent on deploying a sophisticated brand of possession-based football. That being said, it shouldn’t concern Hammers supporters who can be encouraged with Haller’s numbers.