Former West Ham Striker Haller Goes To Battle With Hammers Target Nunez

Both strikers have been in fine form for their sides this season as West Ham are lacking cutting edge up front
15:15, 23 Feb 2022

Benfica and Ajax square off in the Round of 16 of the Champions League this evening. This game will catch the eye of West Ham United supporters as former striker Sebastien Haller goes head-to-head with a forward who has been widely reported as a target for the Hammers, Darwin Nunez. 

West Ham have gone through this season with just Michail Antonio as their only recognised senior striker and it is starting to have an effect on the side in their quest for Champions League football next year. You can never fault the work that Antonio puts in for the team, and he is the Hammers’ record goalscorer in the Premier League. But at 31 years of age, it is a huge ask for him to play every single game for 90 minutes. Fatigue appears to be creeping into the Jamaican international’s performances in relation to goal contributions, but without reinforcements, there isn’t a lot he or his manager can do. With recent displays falling short of the standards the east London outfit set in the earlier stages of the campaign, the overworked Antonio has a heavy burden to carry and it could have a significant impact on how they finish the 2021-22 season.

Tonight, the West Ham faithful will get the chance to see Haller, their former striker, go to battle with the Hammers’ reported target Nunez. Haller has been a revelation for de Godenzonen since he joined the Dutch giants in January 2021. He has become a record-breaker in the Champions League by becoming the first player to net in his first six appearances in the competition and no one has reached double digits faster than the Ivory Coast international. He has been a man-possessed since crossing over the North Sea, racking up 41 goals in 51 appearances for Ajax, after just scoring 14 times in 54 matches for the Hammers. It remains an enigma how it just never worked for him in England, having previously scored consistently in the Eredivisie with Utrecht and Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga before the goals dried up at West Ham.

It’s good to see that the 27-year-old has recovered from his fruitless spell in the East End and many will feel that the Hammers may have been premature in letting him go, but he has clarified the situation. Speaking to The Guardian ahead of tonight’s big Champions League clash, Haller said: “I don’t want to blame David [Moyes]. Sometimes, a style of play doesn’t suit a player and I wasn’t the striker he needed.”

Considering the form that Haller has been this year and how West Ham are looking in need of fresh reinforcements at the top of the pitch, he could well be the striker they need now. Another player that Moyes could do with in his ranks right now is Benfica’s Nunez, who is proving to be one of Europe’s hottest prospects. The 22-year-old Uruguayan is making a name for himself in Portugal and he could’ve joined West Ham in January as the Premier League club tried hard to strengthen their squad and thus their top-four chase. 

Nunez has been making a name for himself in Europe and his goalscoring exploits have been catching the eye of some of Europe’s elite and there will be plenty of clubs keeping tabs on how he performs tonight, as well as the Hammers. With 23 goals in all competitions so far in 2021-22, there aren’t many strikers in better form than Nunez, and he has already found the back of the net three times in the Champions League. His meteoric rise in Europe in a short space of time has been remarkable.

It was only two years ago that he was playing his trade for Almeria in Spain's Segunda Division before joining the Portuguese giants for a club-record €24million after one season in August 2020. His rapid development is quite astounding and he is already establishing himself as one of the most sought-after forwards in football. West Ham reportedly tried to bring Nunez to the London Stadium in the January transfer window but a deal couldn't be struck. 

The Hammers are sure to keep monitoring the youngster's progress ahead of what is shaping up to be a tug-of-war transfer saga in the summer. There will be a whole host of clubs scouting Nunez ahead of the next transfer window and if the Uruguayan's goalscoring form carries on until then, he will be inundated with offers to join clubs across Europe ahead of 2022-23.

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