Carlton Cole says his West Ham pals have been blown away by the impact of summer signing Sebastien Haller – and hailed the Frenchman for getting the best out of his team-mates.
The Hammers splashed £42million to sign Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer and looks a significant upgrade on stroppy Marko Arnautovic.
With three goals already this season, Cole has seen enough to suggest he can lead the line for years to come and revealed the players think he is improving everyone around him.
“I was speaking to Mark Noble and he told me straight away that he is unreal at holding up the ball,” Cole told Paddy Power News.
“Once you play the ball into him they know he is going to hold up the defence and play it back to someone.
“When you know in your mind that if you play the ball up top and it’s going to stick, all the midfielders will go up there and support him.
“When you’re not quite sure if it’s going to stick or not, that’s when the players won’t support as much. They just know they’re not going to get the ball and the striker becomes isolated.”
High-flying West Ham are reaping the rewards of Haller’s unselfishness and he is a big reason why they are currently fifth in the Premier League table.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side is littered with exciting attacking midfielders and they appear to be benefiting from his presence.
Andriy Yarmolenko took the plaudits for a stunning strike in the recent 2-2 draw with Bournemouth, but it would not have been possible without the 6ft 3in hitman’s work in the build-up according to Cole.
“He takes the attention away from the other players,” Cole added. “If you’ve got five good attackers and then one who is dominating two or three defenders all at once, it creates space for all of the others and their quality can come through.
Because of Haller, someone like Yarmolenko can get that shot off against Bournemouth.
“His real quality came through when he spun and put it in the net, but that was all because of Sebastien’s run to go deep.
“His first touch was unreal and then he comes back and the lay-off was fantastic as well.”