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"Who's the man?!" Sebastien Haller (l.) made an even bigger contribution than Luka Jovic (r.) at Eintracht Frankfurt last season. - © 2018 DFL
"Who's the man?!" Sebastien Haller (l.) made an even bigger contribution than Luka Jovic (r.) at Eintracht Frankfurt last season. - © 2018 DFL

Sebastien Haller: Why Eintracht Frankfurt won't miss Luka Jovic


Luka Jovic moved to Real Madrid on the back of a 17-goal Bundesliga spree with Eintracht Frankfurt last season, but there is enough evidence to suggest that former strike partner Sebastien Haller is the more complete forward. bundesliga.com makes its case for the Frenchman...

Haller was Frankfurt's second highest scorer in 2018/19, with 20 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions. Jovic netted seven more, albeit having played in seven more games.

Haller found the net 15 times in 13 different Bundesliga matches, while Jovic's 17 league goals were spread over 11 outings, with five coming in the 7-1 rout of Fortuna Düsseldorf. Haller failed to deliver in 16 of Frankfurt's 34 Bundesliga assignments, Jovic did not score in 21; both hit two braces.

Haller trumped Jovic for Bundesliga assists - nine to six - giving him a goals/assist per game ratio of 0.83 compared to his Serbian counterpart's 0.72. Only Robert Lewandowski (22 goals, 10 assists), Jadon Sancho (10 goals, 14 assists), Marco Reus (17 goals, 11 assists) and Kevin Volland (14 goals, 12 assists) had a direct hand in more Bundesliga goals last season.

Watch: Haller's Top 5 goals for Frankfurt!

If modern-day forwards are to be measured on more than just their goals, Haller is conceivably a shade ahead of Jovic.

At 6'3", the 25-year-old's build is well suited to holding the ball up and bringing teammates into the game - which explains why he produced so many assists in 2018/19 - but he also boasts a turn of pace that allows him to operate out wide in a front three and defies the meatiest of frames.

"He's someone even a bulldozer can't move," former Frankfurt boss Niko Kovac once said of the man who usurped Adebayo 'Beast Mode' Akinfenwa as the strongest player on EA Sports' FIFA gaming series with a muscle-bound rating of 98 out of 99 for strength.

Haller's physical prowess enabled him to win a league-best average of seven aerial challenges per game last season, whilst receiving just three yellow cards. The only time the ex-Utrecht man encounters handbags is on a night out with his other half.

"Haller's ball control wasn't the best in pre-season, he was losing a lot of balls," admitted Kovac's successor, Adi Hütter, earlier in 2019. "He always had fight in him, but the way he's now bossing the ball, winning challenges and taking on players - he's come on leaps and bounds."

Watch: A closer look at what Haller brought to Frankfurt's attack last season

Haller's sizeable leap from modest nine-goal striker in his debut Bundesliga season to potent all-round frontman in his second even had Frankfurt dreaming of a first UEFA Champions League campaign since their run to the 1959/60 European Cup final.

The Eagles moved into the top four on Matchday 27 of 2018/19, but ended the season in seventh place after taking just four points from their remaining seven matches.

Haller missed five of them through injury as Frankfurt's goal return dropped to seven compared to 14 in their previous seven games.

Jovic scored once in that period - a late winner at Schalke, from the penalty spot. Haller capped his season with a short-lived equaliser from the bench against Bayern Munich on the final day. Neither Frankfurt nor their top scorer were the same without him.

Haller (r.) brought the very best of out Jovic (l.) in Frankfurt's top-four push and run to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals. - Getty Images/Alex Grimm

Following Jovic's transfer to Madrid, Frankfurt have reinvested some of the proceeds in another young, two-footed Serbian striker - Dejan Joveljic.

At 19, he is raw rather than rounded, and will be viewed as money well spent even if he returns half as many goals in 2019/20 as his predecessor managed last term. With Haller for company, he will get chances.

"Sebastien is certainly an important player in our team," the third member of last season's free-scoring Frankfurt triumvirate, Ante Rebic, told bundesliga.com. "He is different from Luka and myself, and offers us more quality."

Don't Frankfurt know it. The Eagles displayed real smarts in signing Jovic from Benfica - initially on a two-year loan - before selling him on at a healthy profit and acquiring another prodigious talent in his stead, but retaining the upward-trend-walking Haller for a third season of Bundesliga football could prove to be their best bit of business yet.

Chris Mayer-Lodge