Sebastien Haller: Eintracht’s French Danger Man

 

As the confetti reigned down upon Eintracht Frankfurt’s players after their shock 3-1 DFB Pokal Final victory against Bayern Munich last May, winning the club’s first piece of major silverware in 30 years. On the pitch, Sebastien Haller could be seen laughing and celebrating with his teammates. The smile however hid the fact that it could quite possibly have been his last appearance for the club.

The striker who Frankfurt had paid €8 million to FC Utrecht only a year before had just endured a tough Ruckrunde with The Eagles. A lack of form resulted in him losing his place in the starting eleven. He managed to score just 1 league goal between February and May and only came on for the final seconds of the cup final; which was more about giving MOTM Ante Rebic a standing ovation from the Frankfurt fans.
Eintracht then went and paid FC Porto €3 million for the Portuguese international striker Gonzalo Paciencia. A sign from trainer Adi Hütter that after only one season his time at the Commerzbank-Arena was already coming to an end?
A lot of players would have let this affect them. Looked to find a way out of the club and onto pastures new in search of guaranteed playing time. Crystal Palace were one of the teams linked with taking the ex-Auxerre striker away from the newly crowned DFB Pokal winners. At 24 years old and with the money on offer in England not many would have blamed him for jumping ship.
Before moving to Eintracht, Haller had scored and impressive 51 goals in 98 appearances for FC Utrecht. Their supporters voted for Haller as the winner of the Di Tommaso Trophy, Utrecht’s player of the year award.

Assist King Haller

But the 6ft 3in (1.90m) former French U21 international chose to stay and fight for his place. In an interview with FNP he talked about how he would use the signing of new players as an incentive to work harder and perform better.
He has used the adversity and criticism he faced as motivation for a Hinrunde in which he has already equalled as many league goals (9 goals in 17 appearances) as he scored in the whole of last season. The powerful striker also stands alone at the top of the Bundesliga assists charts with (9), ahead of the likes of Sancho, Reus and Kimmich.
Haller scored 3 goals and made 3 assists as Frankfurt won all 6 games in the Europa League group stage. Having impressed against the likes of Lazio and Marseille, he has proven he has the talent to perform at a European level.

Frankfurt’s Attacking Trio

Alongside Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic, Haller has been a key part of the trio which has terrified Bundesliga defences since the opening day of the season. A 2-0 away victory over SC Freiburg in which Haller scored 1 and assisted the other. The game perfectly illustrated the qualities which first persuaded the Hessen based club to pay €8 million for him.
The first goal against Freiburg saw the striker use his physical strength to hold off the challenge of the Freiburg defender before a beautiful back heel saw him flick the ball perfectly into the path of teammate Nicolai Müller who made it 1-0. Eintracht’s second goal showcased Haller’s finishing and calmness in front of goal.  Haller powered the ball passed the helpless Freiburg goalkeeper Alexandar Schwolow following some great first time passing from Frankfurt.
Haller has been compared to French legends Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet. His hold up play and the ability to see a pass and bring teammates into play are his strongest assets. The Frenchman is deceptively quick with not just a great touch for a big man but a great touch for even a little man.

Goal of the Year

Another example of the quality Haller possesses can be seen in his 2017 Bundesliga Goal of the Year – a stunning scissor kick in the 93rd minute to take home all 3 points for the Eagles against Stuttgart on Match Day 7.
With Frankfurt also playing in the Europa League there were always going to be more eyes on the club. The downside of this is that some of Europe’s big guns have already started sniffing around. It is no secret that Chelsea are in the market for a striker. Having confirmed the signing of Dortmund winger Christian Pulisic, they could very well go shopping in the Bundesliga again.  The release clause for the striker is believed to be around €20 million.
In a recent poll on Footballfancast.com a whopping 92% of Chelsea fans want to see the Frenchman at Stamford Bridge to replace the misfiring Alvaro Morata.
The next step for Haller will surely be a call up to the French National Team. When quizzed recently about the possibility of a full international call up – Haller smiled and simply replied “”Send Didier Deschamps a message and ask him.”

By Jamie Walker

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