The sight of Vincent Janssen, hands clasped to his head after slashing a shot wide of the gaping goal, is enough to make any manager think twice about splurging a hefty fee on an Eredivisie striker. Yet just 12 months ago there was nothing stopping English clubs swarming around Utrecht’s enigmatic goal-scorer Sebastien Haller.
According to the Daily Mail, Norwich City were planning to bid £6.5 million for the languid front man while L’Equipe claimed that Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez personally called Haller in order to convince him to choose St. James’ Park.
A year on, Newcastle are on the verge of ensuring their stay in the second tier was a short one, seven points clear of third placed Huddersfield Town with eight games to go. However, with the future of Aleksandar Mitrovic shrouded in doubt, the Magpies may be in need of another striker in the summer as the over-reliance on top scorer Dwight Gayle becomes increasingly obvious.
Norwich, meanwhile, have disappointed in the Championship this season. Going into the campaign as promotion favourites, they are currently five points clear of the final play-off place and, although the likes of Cameron Jerome and Nelson Oliveira can boast impressive goal tallies, extra quality in the final third would not go amiss.
However, there may be a reason why Haller’s name is no longer so prevalent in the gossip columns. A skilful striker with a cultured first touch and composure in abundance, the young French goalscorer is less Thierry Henry, more Dimitar Berbatov.
Although, after averaging better than a goal every two games in his first year and a half in the Eredivisie, Haller has endured a difficult campaign this time around. 11 goals in 26 is a respectable tally but the level of his performance has dropped.
His run of seven games without a goal between December and February is his leanest spell in Dutch football. Though, as they say, class is permanent and Haller is hardly lacking in that department.
Then again, a striker from the Eredivisie is risky business; especially a striker whose stock appears to have fallen.