Sebastien Haller was always West Ham United’s second choice.
So should we be too surprised that 18 months after West Ham vastly overpaid a club record £45million for the French-born Ivorian, the club have taken a £25m hit to sell him on to Ajax?
Manuel Pellegrini and Mario Husillos wanted Maxi Gomez.
West Ham were willing to pay Celta Vigo the same figure for the Uruguayan (The Daily Mail) they had been tracking for six months.
Haller was bad value, but first choice Gomez not much better
But the South American chose Valencia over the Hammers and the rest, as they say, is history.
Some West Ham fans might wonder what might have been had the club signed their first choice instead.
Well the truth is, probably not much better.
Gomez is physically stronger and more aggressive than Haller. But he is even slower.
And that lack of true pace was Haller’s biggest problem adapting to the Premier League.
Pace is key to Prem success
The likes of Olivier Giroud get away with a lack of pace in the Premier League because they are surrounded by top, pacy talent.
Burnley get away with a lack of pace up front because their entire team is set up specifically to service the forwards, particularly aerially. And again the hold up play of the likes of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes is immeasurably better than Haller’s.
Gomez has not fared any better than Haller in Spain.
In fact the records of Haller and Gomez are remarkably similar.
Haller scored 10 Premier League goals in 34 games for West Ham and provided just one assist. He added another four in the Carabao Cup this season against lower league opposition.
There were four man of the match performances along the way and an average match rating of just under 7/10 (WhoScored.com).
West Ham’s first choice Gomez has scored 15 league goals in 39 games for Valencia and has provided three assists.
Gomez and Haller prove West Ham’s recruitment needs planned Moyes revolution
He has a similar average match rating to Haller (WhoScored.com) too.
Haller won more aerial duels and had a better pass completion rate but both strikers had an equally poor shots per game average of 1.5.
Gomez did suffer an injury which kept him out for a while. As a result he had 700 minutes less game time in total, which makes his record slightly more impressive than Haller’s.
If the experience teaches West Ham anything it is that the signing of Haller is not the result of bad luck. It’s not about pot luck of a player not adapting.
The poor records of Gomez and Haller show West Ham’s recruitment is fundamentally broken.
That side of things does appear to be much improved under David Moyes.
The excellent signings of Jarrod Bowen, Tomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal and Said Benrahma are evidence of that.
Moyes also has plans to completely revamp West Ham’s league-worst – by his own admission – recruitment (Evening Standard).
It is long overdue. And much needed.