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Who is Sebastien Haller? The Eintracht Frankfurt 'bulldozer' that idolises Thierry Henry

09:00 GMT 28/03/2019
Sebastien Haller
The all-round French forward is among the leaders for both goals and assists in Germany, which has drawn the attention of a host of top European clubs

During the international break, the Bundesliga's top two assist-makers both shone for their countries in Euro 2020 qualifying.

England's Jadon Sancho proved once again why he is deserving of all the accolades coming his way, including the NxGn 2019 trophy, while Joshua Kimmich added some much-needed experience to a new-look Germany team who put a dismal World Cup behind them to start their Euro 2020 campaign with a brilliant win in the Netherlands.

Oddly, the player currently sitting joint-third in the Bundesliga assists chart was not with his own nation.

Despite creating nine goals so far this season, and netting 14 himself (which puts him fourth in the race for the top scorer award), Sebastien Haller is still awaiting his first France call-up.

Didier Deschamps may not be presently interested in the 24-year-old forward but plenty of Europe's top clubs are keeping an eye on the Eintracht Frankfurt attacker, who has scored goals everywhere he has played.

His record at underage level for his country is impressive, with 13 goals in 20 games for the Under-21s, while his return of 51 goals in 98 games for Utrecht earned him his move to Germany.

Tall and strong, Haller is an imposing presence in the opposition area, with his physical performances this season earning him the title of the strongest player in FIFA 19, overtaking Adebayo Akinfenwa to earn a strength rating of 98 out of 99.

Former Frankfurt head coach and current Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac even claimed "a bulldozer couldn't knock him over".

Haller has proven the perfect hold-up man for Frankfurt, his ability to bring other players into the game aided significantly by the fact that he is equally adept at using either foot to lay the ball off to team-mates.

He also reads the game brilliantly and despite being unselfish, has the instinctive ability to know the right time to pull the trigger – something which earned him the Bundesliga goal of the year award for 2017-18.

He has grown under new Eintracht boss Adi Hutter, too, improving his all-round game, but then, he has always been a versatile player.

As a youngster, he was asked to play in goal due to his size, but explained to Goal that his goalscoring exploits were enough to keep him playing in his preferred position.

"I was actually a striker, but when it came to penalties in tournaments, I usually went in the goal," he revealed. "Even then I was one of the biggest players in the team and had very good reflexes.

"We won some tournaments thanks to my actions. But I was always happier when I was allowed to play outfield. Luckily, I scored enough goals. Otherwise I might have played as a goalkeeper more often."

His influences include some of the best forwards in recent history, with all having an impact on his style as he looks to create his own narrative, which may be expanded by a successful Europa League campaign with Eintracht Frankfurt, qualification for the Champions League or even a move to a bigger club this summer.

"Thierry Henry was one of my greatest role models in my childhood," he told Goal. "As a half-Ivorian I also liked Didier Drogba, later Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"But I want to write my own story and not copy anyone."

The current chapter of his story has brought him plenty of attention from clubs across Europe but while the Frenchman has aspirations of playing in the Champions League, he claimed in November that he was perfectly content at Frankfurt despite rumours of a Premier League transfer in January.

Haller insists the time has to be right for a transfer.

"I would never switch to the Premier League just to play there. It has to make sense to me," he told the FAZ. "And it has to be the right time for me.

"At the moment, I'm in Frankfurt, and I am very happy here. The Europa League contributes to this. It has already given me great moments and memories."

With Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals having knocked out Marseille, Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter, Haller has already made plenty of memories this season and could be set to make more.

However, he is aware that he is not yet the finished article.

"Of course, there is always work to do," he admitted. "For example, being more efficient with scoring opportunities. I know that's not the only thing I need to improve.

"Everything I can do better, I have to improve. Whether it's my passes, speed, shots or ball control and my body. I want to become an even more complete player."

It won't be long before Haller realises that goal. When he does, Europe's top clubs will come calling. And maybe even Deschamps too...