Prospecting the Prospects: Sebastian Haller

Our “prospecting the prospects” series continues for 2019-20!

This is where we run the rule over the of FPL prospects of some who will enter the game next season. This series analyses a selection of these newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) as if they had been in FPL, then providing our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the coming period.

We’ve already done Daniel James, Teemu Pukki, Jack Grealish, Pablo Fornals, Christian Pulisic, Che Adams, Enda Stevens and Emi Buendia this season!

On 17th July, West Ham announced the club record signing of French striker Sebastian Haller (pronounced Aller, according to Mr WP!) from Eintracht Frankfurt:

The 25-year-old striker is slated to have moved in a deal reportedly worth up to £45m.

After Marko Arnautovic’s departure for China and West Ham’s failure to sign Maxi Gomez (who subsequently signed for Valencia and Champions League football), the need for a striker seemed paramount.

So now he’s signed, just how good is he?

Let’s use WhoScored data to find out, though we also use FFH and FFS data in the evaluation.

Prospecting The Prospects

Appearances: 23 appearances + 6 under 60 mins = 52 points

Goals: 15 goals (15×4) = 60 points

Assists: 9 assists (9×3) = 27 points

Disciplinary: 3 yellow cards: -3 points

Raw point total: 136 points

Bonus (n.b. skippable – and please do skip unless you really fancy it, just a record to show I haven’t made it up)

To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we’ve reviewed the games he would have delivered points in to come to a rough number.

We’ve done this by researching match performance and allocating probable bonus depending on how well he did.

25th Aug – 2-0 win v SC Freiburg, assisted Nicolai Muller’s opener and scored the second to get all 3

1st Sep – 2-1 loss v Werder Bremen, scored to level from pen spot, but a good performance on winning side from Yuyo Osako (who scored the Bremen opener) amongst others may have limited Haller to 1

14th Sep – 3-1 loss v Borussia Dortmund, scored to make it 1-1, but good performances from BVB players Marius Wolf, Abdou Diallo and Paco Alcacer off the bench may have meant Haller ends with 0

30th Sep -4-1 win v Hanover, 2 assists but barely made 60 minutes – he assisted the opening two goals, including the winner therefore, but good performances from Jonathan de Guzman and Anton Rebic may mean just 1

19th Oct – 7-1 win v Dusseldorf – scored opener from the pen spot and got 2 assists, but Luka Jovic famously scored five(!), so he’d have 2

28th Oct – 1-1 draw away v Nuremberg, scored off the bench and may have nabbed bps in a drab match 1

2nd Nov – 3-0 win over Stuttgart, scored opener/winner and got MotM, but yellow card and a good performance from Rebic, plus a clean sheet for the defence, may have meant just 1

11th Nov –3-0 win v Schalke, added 3rd goal, though Jovic scored a brace for 3 and Filip Kostic was MotM supplying an assist, so maybe he’d get 2, leaving Haller with 1

24th Nov – 3-1 win v Augsburg, goal and assist and Motm, plus other goalscorers would be penalised (e.g. De Guzman booked) so 3

2nd Dec – 2-1 loss at home v Wolfsburg, scored but poor stats for all but Daniel Ginzchek and Admir Mehmedi from winners Wolfsburg plus a goal for Jovic may mean Haller ends with 0

16th Dec – 2-1 win versus Bayer Leverkusen, assist but booked so 0

19th Jan – 3-1 win v Freiburg, scored the opener in a game with lots of good performances, which may mean that Rebic got 3, Jovic 2 and Haller nabbing the 1

26th Jan – 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen, scored to level at 2-2 from pen spot, but good performances from Maxes Eggstein and Kruse may have left him with just 1

2nd Mar – 3-2 win with Hoffenheim, scored to level 2-2 and assisted Goncalo Palencia’s late winner so probably all 3

11th Mar – 3-0 win v Dusseldorf, brace off the bench for maybe an Aubameyang style 3

18th May – 5-1 loss v Bayern – consolation only 0

Total guesstimated bonus from g/a: 21

Scores on the doors

That makes 157 points for Haller last season, which corresponds to a monster score of 6.8(!) points per game (PPG) if we exclude the 3 sub apps, or down to 5.4 if we include them.

Scaling this to the Premier League’s 38 games, that equates to a total of 206 points including sub apps, or a frankly ridiculous 259 if not.

Obvious caveats apply, and this is one of the pitfalls of this particular methodology – 157 points across 23(6) appearances in the Premier League would also be more than acceptable. The 206 would mean he was the highest scoring forward, which isn’t realistic.

However, I guess 27 appearances in a rough and tumble FPL season may be imaginable,  so that 157 would put him 9th for strikers, 16 ahead of Josh King and 3 behind Harry Kane.

Evaluation

Those stats are really good – in a small amount of time (he missed 5 games end of season with an abdominal strain) Haller has done very well. 0.65 goals per game is some achievement. Here’s some more data from last season:

Spooling back through his history, it seems like he is capable of double figure goals at least with some consistency – he scored 17 in the Eredivisie for FC Utrecht in 2015/16, and 13 the following year, which earnt him the move to Frankfurt – he recorded 9 goals in his maiden season.

He’s now perhaps nearing the peak of his powers at 25 – valHaller? – which means we’ve got a fairly complete product moving to the Premier League.

The brilliant Distance Covered (who we’re having on the podcast this year – spoiler) also wrote this excellent profile of the Frenchman which I did like a lot.

To add the WhoScored numbers, Haller managed 54 shots – of which an astonishing 40 were in the box (74%!), last season. He also used his 6ft 2in frame to good effect, winning 201 of the 340 aerial duels he contested.

Furthermore, he created 38 chances for his team mates, with WhoScored also noting that he likes the odd flick-on and lay off.

He’s also a potential pen takerTransfermarkt report that he took and scored both of Frankfurt’s spot kicks last season, so he might take responsibility if Mark Noble is not on the field.

Encouragingly, his xG according to understat always seems on point with his hauls – at 13.69xG last season and 15 scored, that’s not too bad – suggests we’re looking at 10-15 goals a season which is decent. His xA for his 9 assists this year isn’t too bad either – a 7.37 expected assist rate again isn’t far off what he created across the 2176 mins he played.

He does tend to score in fits and starts, though – which may suit West Ham, long a paragon of inconsistency, down to the ground.

In short, he’s a classic Target Man, with an Attacking rather than Giroud-esque Support mindset, as shown by his shots in the box.

I also noticed that a fair deal of his goals were unassisted, and FPL Chef kindly shared some information with me which seems to corroborate this – lots of tap ins after the likes of Rebic or Jovic had had an effort spilled (meaning FPL Assists galore for the likes of Lanzini or Fornals, who do love long shots, perhaps).

Right, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some comparisons.

Last season, Frankfurt’s Haller and Jovic double act saw the Frenchman being the foil for the young Serb most of the time. This reminded me of the dynamic between Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes at Burnley. New Zealander Wood is perhaps the one with the more Target Man characteristics of the pair, so we’ll use him as a comparator. He was further forward than Barnesy on the average position maps last season, which means that, like Haller, he also takes the majority of his shots in the box – 49/59 of his strikes were in the box last season (83%). Wood’s 26 headed attempts over 38 appearances is perhaps lower than what we’d expect from Haller, but nonetheless Wood’s 131 points from 10 goals and 3 assists at a 6.5m price point seems something we’d expect the Frenchman to match if valued around there.

I do think that OFPL might just do a like-for-like swap with the departed Arnie, however, and price Haller at 7.0. That might still be good value. Having a look around for comparators, one man who may be similar to the new Hammer is Christian Benteke, though perhaps back in his first Palace season when he was very much the fulcrum of that team (as Haller will no doubt aspire to be for West Ham). “Tekkers”‘ season best is 2016/17, when he scored 136 points from 15 goals and 2 assists. Now priced at 6.0, the Belgian’s FPL star has fallen drastically – but back in the season in question, he started at 7.5m, perhaps closer to what we anticipate Haller would be. That year, Tekkers as Target Man hit 95 of his 105 attempts (a huge 90%) from inside the box, which works out at 2.7 shots per game, roughly. Haller managed 1.9 shots per game last season, but bearing in mind the key pass stat cited above, this may be because he was trying to support Jovic. If he is the main weapon in the West Ham arsenal, I wonder again if Tekker’s 136 point output from 2016/17 might be again what we’d expect to see from Haller.

Just to give a “Rolls Royce” comparison, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang moved to Arsenal in the winter of the 2017/18 season, scoring 10 goals in a whirlwind H2 of the season when he recorded 87 points. He seemed to adjust quickly to life in the Premier League, firing in 2.5 strikes per game – just less than Tekkers managed at Villa. Haller is more of a target man than poacher Aubameyang. He’s like the Gabonese in that he tends to rely on his muscular movement, however he doesn’t quite have the acceleration of the Golden Boot co-winner. However, if Haller can come in and lean on the predatory positioning instincts that seem part of his game, and have chances forged for him by the likes of Fornals and Felipe Anderson, I wonder if he might up the shot count to near Auba’s. Obviously this is a high level comparison, but Haller is now surrounded by some decent players (though Rebic and Kostic were no slouches) and the key man, so may that mean he steps up?

I also want to provide a quick fail analogy too, who appears in the shape of poor old Yoshinori Muto at Newcastle. OFPL strained to find a way of spinning a good story out of his 8 goals and 2 assists in 27 appearances for Mainz in 2017/18, and zeroed in on a conversion rate advantage (22.5%) to suggest he may be better than Perez.

24 points and a solitary goal leave me unconvinced on that, with Perez’s 141 point haul earning him a move to Leicester. Josh Williams mentions in his article that Hallers’ conversion rate is 31.2%, so even better than Muto (shock). Could lightning strike twice?

I don’t expect Haller to do a Muto, though, and feel like he’ll get around 10-12 goals or something (anything more a bonus) – but worth providing the cautionary tale and, who knows, maybe the Japanese striker can silence the critics next campaign.

West Ham have a very decent start post the of course difficult Gameweek 1:

MCI bha wat NOR avl

But maybe that City start and a probable 7.0 really points to us watching and waiting to see how that – now richly talented – West Ham attack knit together to see if Haller is worthwhile. I just wonder why he hasn’t gotten picked up by a Big Club if he is the best thing since sliced bread like some seem to be making out, which is my only niggle.

However he does have a bit about him given the stats and comparators like big Benteke that may encourage us to take the punt once the tough City game is out of the way.

Given the player profile but without knowing the price, it’s a provisional 3, rising/falling depending on proximity to the 7.0 price mark.

UPDATE: 7.5m for Haller

With that price – a surprising 0.5m bump apropos of nothing on Arnie (I assume they may have read this) – we’re firmly in “wait and watch” territory. It’s a bit of a shame really – at 7.0 you’d have had a choice to make between him and the likes of Felipe, but here I think we’re really contingent on the Frenchman hitting the ground running and providing demonstrable output to justify investing 0.5 more than the likes of the Brazilian – or even 1.5m over the returning Yarmolenko.

Leaving him at 3 as the drop to 2.5/5 felt too drastic – it’s kind of a 2.75 though.

Overall rating: 3 / 5 – A good prospect for FPL*

*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent

Disclaimer: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. Predicting how well a player will do is an inexact science, and there are many ways to do it. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do in FPL.