Rafael Benitez was so determined to bring Utrecht striker Sebastian Haller to Newcastle United in the summer of 2016 that he personally called the Frenchman in an attempt to lure him to Tyneside, according to L’Equipe.
Though Haller himself admitted that he did not feel the time was right to make the move to Newcastle. Instead, the former Auxerre talent made the move to Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt instead.
“It could have been an option but, to sign in the Championship, is this growth?” the France youth striker reflected in quotes reported by L’Equipe (PressReader) this summer. “The Premier League was a bit premature. I still need to play, to prove myself.”
Haller is doing exactly that in Germany, however. The 23-year-old started slowly at Frankfurt but a sublime acrobatic equaliser in the last minute of a 1-0 win at Koln last month, which had his usually stony-faced coach Niko Kovac welling up with emotion on the touchline, looks like a turning point.
Holler for Haller
Haller now has three goals in his last three games and four overall, including a strike which inspired Frankfurt to turn around a 2-0 deficit at home to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
The striker who took the Eredivisie by storm with his velvet touch and ice-cool finishing has arrived in Germany. Haller plundered 45 goals in three seasons at Utrecht and is well-placed to hit double figures for the fourth campaign in a row at the Commerzbank-Arena.
The Magpies could do a prolific striker to complement a hard-working midfield and a sturdy backline and long-standing Benitez target Haller could be that man.
Newcastle fans will be hoping that Haller, despite joining Frankfurt a few months ago, is still on their radar.