Confirmation of Sébastien Haller’s departure to Ajax for less than half of the £45m fee that made him West Ham’s record signing, at the age of 25 in July 2019, is, perhaps more than anything else, a demonstration of the Eredivisie club’s ambitions. He, similarly, represents Ajax’s most expensive ever signing, and if he does so for a significantly smaller fee, he has moved to a football culture with not only far smaller resources than the Premier League’s, but where there is an even greater reluctance to make such a profile of signing.
In the process of scoring 14 goals in 50 appearances for West Ham, Haller showed promise without consistently excelling, but Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind also did not always produce their best in England and have since proved key to Ajax’s success. “This is a club where I can compete in the Champions League and chase titles every season and it’s that winning mentality that suits me,” Haller said upon signing. It was in the Eredivisie with Utrecht that he recorded 30 goals in 65 appearances; he then continued to impress in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, and to the extent that former Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac once said: “A bulldozer couldn’t knock him over.”