The HamburgHammer Column
I hope I am not tempting fate here, as the player is not quite ours yet, but early signs are promising that French striker Sébastien Haller (pronounced the French way, Sebastioooh ‘Alleeer, you gotta drop the H like a true Cockney and you’re halfway there…LOL) could indeed be West Ham bound.
If rumours are to be believed we have convinced the player of this exciting little PL project we’ve got going in East London, personal terms have been basically agreed including a release clause while the two clubs have apparently also agreed on a fee of around the €40m mark, according to some sources (other sources claim though that a fee is yet to be agreed).
Once again though, the payment structure of any fee could prove to be a major stumbling block as Eintracht Frankfurt may well be demanding a bigger fee upfront than we are willing or capable of handing over.
If we have to pay 20m upfront, I’d still go for it as preseason is already in full swing and we do need quality first-choice strikers soon, not freebie stopgaps.
As Mario Husillos has surprisingly travelled with our squad to China for the preseason tournament there, the West Ham director of football will have to continue negotiations for Haller by email or telephone conversations which would suggest that the face to face negotiations from now on mainly rest with either club intermediaries or David Sullivan himself. Is that a good or bad thing ? I’m not really sure, so fingers crossed and God be with us!
I’d still like to go ahead regardless and assume we will eventually sign up Haller (after losing out in the quest to sign new Valencia striker Maxi Gomez who may or may not have been used deliberately as an elaborate smokescreen for our real target(s), who knows ?).
I may have told you before about one of my Concordia mates who is also a diehard Frankfurt fan (due to the fact he was born by accident in a local Frankfurt hospital. His heavily pregnant mom and his dad were at that crucial time in a car on their way home from some holiday destination in South Germany when the labour pains kicked in, but he could just as easily have ended up as a Nuremberg or Hannover supporter depending on traffic on the Autobahn, I suppose).
So I know for a fact that like most Frankfurt supporters he isn’t happy at all about potentially losing Haller. Allow me to tell you a thing or three about the player who will hopefully be a Hammer later this week:
He’s 25 years old and grew up on the outskirts of Paris.
He is what is known as a street footballer as he played and breathed football virtually 24/7 when still a wee lad, kicking a ball and doing keepie uppies on the streets and courts of his suburban neighbourhood. So while he joined a proper club at the age of 10, well before that time he had already developed skills and instincts out there on the street you cannot really teach in club football.
Later on he became a member of the Auxerre academy, following in the footsteps of Bacary Sagna and a certain Eric Cantona…
He was part of a trio of attackers at Frankfurt together with Jovic and Rebic, a group which was affectionately known as “The Buffalo Herd“, due to their physical and robust style of play. And while you wouldn’t want a buffalo herd, same as the proverbial bull, anywhere near your parents’ china shop, buffalo style attackers can be very fearsome in football even in 2019.
Haller and his mates in any case were scoring goals for fun, being one of the highlights and joys to watch in recent Bundesliga history. And the envy of every team in the league.
Haller’s main asset that catches your eye first is obviously his height and build. You won’t brush this guy off the ball easily, at least not by legal means and he can hold up the ball well enough to bring others into play time and time again.
Mark Noble might want to cover his ears now, but Haller is a fantastic penalty taker which could come in useful with VAR being a factor in the PL now.
He is also a great outlet when his team is under pressure as he is capable of winning balls booted high up the pitch as his height gives him tremendous range to control the ball with his head or either foot. Which of course is also a good asset to have when defending against a set piece.
You’d be forgiven for thinking his height might be somewhat hindering him in certain other situations on the pitch, however, his body control and agility is extraordinary for a man of his stature, indeed he quite regularly turns an opponent in astonishing ways, leaving him to snatch at thin air and using great initial acceleration to get away and have a shot on goal or play a pass to a teammate. (Although he is nowhere near as fast as, say, Felipe Anderson who can outrun opponents over half the length of the pitch, Haller doesn’t quite have that kind of pace over distance.)
One distinctive factor in Frankfurt’s attacking brand of football was his constant interchanging of positions on the pitch with Rebic and Jovic, rendering their moves and tactics highly unpredictable…and as a result lethal.
Moreover Haller is not just a one-trick pony either as his collection of goals clearly showcases: Left foot, right foot, headers, penalties and bicycle kicks, you name it, he scored one just like that.
You can also add playmaking to his weaponry as his flick-ons are another major part of his attacking play, ideal for helping guys like Anderson, Lanzini, Yarmolenko or Antonio to boost their own goal tally.
In short: I think Haller would be ideal for West Ham, after missing out on Maxi Gomez. He is more than just a good finisher, he makes the players around him better and also is a proper team player.
If we get him we would have a very confident young man on our hands, with his peak years still very much ahead of him, but no egotistical diva or disturbing factor in the dressing room. His English at this point is as fluent as his movement on the pitch, so that should also help him settling into London life quickly, again, IF the signing happens of course!
Either way, we should have a decision in the next two or three days I reckon and than we can get in another striker on loan or a reasonably good freebie as backup.
Let’s hope for the best, COYI!!!
A quick “Welcome to London!“ goes out to our first new signing for the West Ham women’s team, defender Laura Vetterlein, arriving at West Ham from Bundesliga side SC Sand.
27-year-old Vetterlein (translating as “little cousin”) has also played for German women’s football giants Wolfsburg and she’s won the Champions League with them twice, same as the German league title (twice as well), so you can be certain that Laura will bring experience, skills and solidity to our defence. As a fellow German I am obviously over the moon that West Ham have ramped up their Kraut quota, at least as far as the women’s team is concerned.
Maybe we’ll develop a taste for it and sign a German or two for the first team as well to follow in Hitzlsperger’s footsteps.
In any case, I hope to be able to catch Vetterlein, nicknamed Laurinho, in footballing action whenever I shall be over for my next visit. When I do, I can teach you all a few important German phrases to shout onto the pitch as encouragement, so that Laura may get a bit of extra spring in her step…not that she’d need it, of course!
To give you an idea what she looks and sounds like, here’s a little interview clip from the time at her previous club.
Hamburg football update: Hamburg SV lost a preseason game against Huddersfield, of all clubs. Concordia came runner’s up at a week-long local tournament of eight teams and the Cordi lads looks in decent enough shape now, judging by the preseason performances, to kick off their season in style this Friday with a cup game away to minnows Glinde.
Will they turn out to be Cordi’s Wimbledon and cause a premature cup exit ?
I also watched another preseason test yesterday, this time of the young Concordia women’s team, they got trounced 0:8, albeit against a frighteningly good side playing two levels above Cordi. The class divide truly showed on the pitch…
According to the manager he wanted to keep the girls firmly grounded and focussed for when the new season kicks off four weeks from now. So far the players were used to winning left, right and centre. Next season will be a tougher challenge, against better teams throughout the league and with definitely more defeats on the cards than in the season just gone. No reasons then for illusions of grandeur here…
So probably it wasn’t such a bad idea after all to show the team that there are still plenty of things to work on and improve in training. They make think they are a good team already, but there are sides out there that are far better…and that’s the kind of level where Cordi aim to be one day.