West Ham United: Gianluca Scamacca draws worrying comparison to Sebastien Haller from Joe Cole
Big-money West Ham signing Gianluca Scamacca drew a concerning comparison from Joe Cole to predecessor Sebastien Haller after his showing against FCSB.
The Italian arrived for £33.5million for Sassuolo in the summer to finally address the need for a second forward option, which had been an issue since French goalscorer Haller had been sold at a huge loss after struggling with the Hammers as their then-record signing.
But in a miserable first half at the London Stadium on Thursday night (8 September) Scamacca snatched at a number of chances and skewed them badly off target as his side went in at the break 1-0 down, and former Irons Carlton and Joe Cole were concerned about the performance.
Speaking at half time of the BT Sport match coverage (8.55pm) Carlton said: “We know he’s new. We know how hard it is for a new player. He’s had a couple of weeks off through illness as well so he’s obviously not as sharp as he wants to be but he’s got to put some of these [away].
“This is like some of the basic stuff. I’m not saying I was the greatest at it, but I’m expecting for a player of his ilk to be putting that ball in the back of the net, or at least on target.
Joe then added: “He’s just snatching at his chances at the moment, and that’s not helping him, and it might not help his confidence.”
“He looks anxious doesn’t he as a striker? We’ve seen it with a great player, top player, Haller, when he came in. He never settled and you don’t want that for Scamacca, so he needs to just slow himself down and calm himself down.”
Nobody outside of possibly Flynn Downes came out of the first half in the Europa Conference League meeting with much credit so it could simply have been a bad day at the office for Scamacca.
That David Moyes made a triple substitution at half time tells its own story, and because the striker was one of the three taken off it meant he didn’t get the opportunity for redemption in the second half as the likes of Emerson did.
The Italy international had scored home and away in the qualifying round against Viborg but has yet to find the net in the Premier League, which suggests he is still finding his feet, but the longer it takes for him to do that will inevitably bring to mind Haller’s time at the club.
After the Irons shelled out a huge £45million fee for him in 2019, which remained the record until the recent signing of Lucas Paqueta, he only managed to score 14 times and assist three in all competitions from 54 appearances.
But following his departure to Ajax at a £25million loss he rediscovered his undoubted quality and fired 47 goals with 16 assists over his next 66 outings with the Dutch giants, setting a Champions League record along the way, and prompting Borussia Dortmund to sign him as a replacement for Erling Haaland.
Before his career was cruelly interrupted by a testicular cancer diagnosis which he is currently receiving treatment for, he showed that his ability wasn’t the issue but his time in east London simply never clicked, whether through confidence or simply being in the wrong environment for him, so if Scamacca gets into the same rut it could be a deflating repeat.
He still has plenty of time to come good, and perhaps should have been awarded an early penalty anyway, but if the precedent set by the Haller signing is already being mentioned in discussion of his play it is an ominous sign.