No one has scored 20 goals in a top-flight league season for West Ham United since Tony Cottee in 1987. But, speaking to talkSPORT, the Hammers legend believes record signing Sebastien Haller could be the man to finally follow in his footsteps, 33 years on.
Eyebrows were raised when West Ham paid £45 million for a striker who had been outshone by Luka Jovic at Eintracht Frankfurt last season (the Guardian).
Yet the early signs suggest that Haller, a natural-born goalscorer who has won more aerial battles than any player in the Premier League this season, will be more Paulo Di Canio and less Modibo Maiga.
The towering Frenchman has three goals in English football already, following a brace away at Watford with a typical poacher’s finish in last week’s 2-0 home win against Norwich. And Cottee is confident that Haller could put his 23-year record under threat.
“The club paid a lot of money for him, an incredible amount of money,” Cottee told Alan Brazil (11 September, 9.30am). “It puts pressure on a player, you’re the £45m million man, you’ve been bought to score goals.”
“Right from the first 20 minutes of the season, he’s played really well and now he’s got his goals.
“I was the last player to do it (score 20 league goals in a single campaign). I think Haller has got a chance (to break the record).”
Right back to his formative years at Utrecht in Holland, Haller has looked the real deal. Standing at 6ft 2ins and blessed with the leap of a salmon, it would be easy to liken him to an old-school target man in the Duncan Ferguson mould.
But that does Haller a disservice. He’s more Dimitar Berbatov than mid-90s battering ram, as that wonderful acrobatic effort against Watford shows.
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