Sebastien Haller makes David Moyes admission after failed West Ham transfer

Sebastien Haller’s failed transfer to West Ham came at a loss of £25 million for the Hammers after the striker’s 13 months spell in east London.

The Ivory Coast international is still the Hammers record signing at £45million, but the move did not work out and in January 2021 his former manager Erik ten Hag made him Ajax’s club-record transfer for £20m.

Haller’s move has certainly worked out for the Dutch giants and the striker himself, but three transfer windows later West Ham have yet to replace the Ivory Coast international and are entirely reliant on Michail Antonio to lead the line.

The former Hammer still wishes the club well while looking out for their results and is pleased for Antonio that he has succeeded in a role once earmarked for Haller himself.

“I was brought in by Manuel Pellegrini but then David Moyes came and we got in a situation where we were … like trapped together,” he told The Guardian.

“I was playing in a system that I didn’t really enjoy. Moyes preferred someone like [Michail] Antonio up front, and I’m super happy he [Antonio]’s doing so well; I am for all the guys at West Ham. I had a good time there with them but I was also really mad at the situation, [with] the way we were playing, the way I was playing, the way I was feeling …”

Haller revealed there were off-field issues he was struggling with in his life as well as his difficulty adapting to Moyes’ style of play.

“We had to stay in a hotel for a month, then had to go to an apartment, she had to arrange everything,” he said. “Then the little one came and had some problems, suffering from bad reflux. He didn’t sleep at night, was crying all the time, in constant pain.

“I’m not the type that just shuts the door and acts like nothing is happening. You have to help to raise your children – it’s not only up to the mother. I was worrying about him, about my wife, who couldn’t sleep and was feeling like a zombie. Then you have to adapt to your new environment, a new competition, then there was Corona, pfffff … that was maybe a lot to deal with.”

After a largely unsuccessful year, sporadically filled with wonder strikes, Haller approached Moyes and requested he be allowed to leave West Ham for regular football elsewhere.

“I had to think for a long time if I should do it. In the end I wanted to enjoy football. I thought: ‘Why am I thinking what other people think?’ They want to comment on everything they see, even if they don’t know about the situation. This is not their life, it’s my life. You can say: ‘Look at me, I play for a Premier League club, though I’m always on the bench.’

More than a year since Sebastien Haller left West Ham the Hammers have yet to find a striker to challenge Michail Antonio up front (Photo by Tim Keeton/Pool via Getty Images)
More than a year since Sebastien Haller left West Ham the Hammers have yet to find a striker to challenge Michail Antonio up front (Photo by Tim Keeton/Pool via Getty Images)

“But at Ajax I can score goals, play for trophies, play in the Champions League, enjoy football. It was a simple decision in the end, a no-brainer. So I went to David Moyes and said: ‘I am asking you if you can let me go and not block a move. I want my confidence back.’ Luckily he and the club agreed.”

Haller is grateful to Moyes that he was allowed to exit West Ham and thinks his spell at the Hammers was just a wrong fit between player and manager.

“I don’t want to blame David. Sometimes a style of play doesn’t suit a player and I wasn’t the striker he needed,” Haller added. “And I also wasn’t his signing. If you bring in players [as a manager] that cost money for the club, you need to show that you didn’t make a mistake.”

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West Ham’s loss has certainly been Ajax’s gain with Haller the top scorer in this season’s Champions League with a remarkable ten goals in the group stages, a record for a debutant in Europe’s elite competition including four in the opening match against Sporting.

Haller’s success is proof West Ham had a striker of quality on their books and it is a shame for both parties it did not work out. The loss of Haller is only exacerbated by the Hammers failure to adequately replace him and the loss of goalscoring form by Antonio.

With Europa League football returning to the London Stadium shortly, a striker of proven European calibre would be quite useful for Moyes right now… if only he wasn’t preparing for a Champions League tie against Benfica on Wednesday night.

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