Paul Ince questioned West Ham attacker Sebastien Haller following the 3-2 loss to Tottenham on Saturday.
The former Premier League midfielder implied that Haller was limited as he suggested that West Ham needed to start playing long-ball football with him upfront as he wasn’t very good at retaining the ball when it’s played into his feet.
Ince also seemed to suggest that the Hammers have overpaid for Haller, they agreed a deal worth £45million to sign from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer (Source: BBC Sport), as he claimed there were definitely problems at the club if they’re paying that amount for him.
“Upfront, I know Haller started really well but if you’re paying £45million for him, then there’s definitely problems there,” said Ince on BT Sport Score (15:17, Saturday, November 23rd)
“Antonio came back, and was on in the second-half, and with him they looked the better team.
“But I think with Haller you have to go long as he is 6ft 4, anything to his feet…his ball retention isn’t very good.”
There’s no denying Haller has struggled as of late.
The 25-year-old hasn’t scored in any of his last five league games, meaning he has gone 450 minutes without scoring a goal. (Source: Transfermarkt)
When you consider he is the Hammers’ main striker, and actually the club’s current top-scorer, it’s not acceptable that he has gone that long without a goal.
However, Ince is surely barking up the wrong tree to imply Haller is limited and can only thrive off long-ball football, as he has previously proven to be more than a one-dimensional player.
Haller was directly involved in 24 goals in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt last season, as per the BBC, with him getting 15 goals and nine assists, and only Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandoski was involved in more goals than him.
Considering he assisted frequently, as well as scored, it’s very doubtful that he isn’t skilled with the ball at his feet, otherwise surely more teams would have found a way to stop him having an impact if all he could do was use his size to get on.
The reason for Haller’s struggles isn’t likely because he can’t retain the ball, though in fairness to Ince he did fail to control it three times v Spurs (Source: WhoScored), it’s probably because he has no one to work off.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s most-used eleven last season saw Haller play upfront alongside Luka Jovic, as per WhoScored, which allowed him to knock the ball on to his teammate, when it was played into his feet.
Given only two other attack-minded Hammers had shots at goal against Tottenham, as per WhoScored, it shows how Haller was often not getting the support upfront he needed, and that his struggles weren’t down to the club not playing long-ball football.
After all, if the ball is just booted up the 25-year-old, he’d have the same problem.