Haller dreams of France call-up after setting Bundesliga alight
The French attacker is aiming for a Les Bleus call-up after a standout campaign in Germany so far
Eintracht Frankfurt star Sebastien Haller has yet to make his debut for the French national team, but he is hoping his stunning Bundesliga performances this season will be making Didier Deschamps stand up and take note.
The 24-year-old has scored nine goals in 17 league matches – matching his tally for the entirety of the previous campaign – while also leading the Bundesliga for assists with eight.
His impressive form has helped Frankfurt to sixth in the table at the halfway mark of the season, with his side four points behind fourth-placed RB Leipzig in the final Champions League qualification position.
And while Haller believes a call-up from France manager Deschamps is something he is targeting, his focus will not waver from performing for Frankfurt if he is overlooked for international duty.
“If someday I’m nominated [for France], perfect. If not, then I’ll continue as usual,” Haller exclusively told Goal and DAZN.
“I can only do my job, keep working, keep scoring. Everything else is out of my hands, because I’m not the coach. But I feel no pressure.”
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Haller joined Ligue 2 club Auxerre’s academy at the age of 13 but failed to make an impact on the first team in his 50 league appearances between 2012 and 2017.
And the striker believes his struggles in France were down to his youthful naivety and failure to get on with the coaching staff.
“I was young and just not ready to get my maximum every weekend. I also had some disagreements with my coach at Auxerre. The best thing was to look for something else,” Haller said.
“Auxerre did not want to give me to any other club in the second division. But I did not want to change to the third division. That would have been a step backwards.”
Instead of dropping down a division in France, Haller made the move to Dutch club FC Utrecht after impressing on loan during the back half of 2015.
And he attributes much of his development to then Utrecht boss Erik ten Hag, and lauded the Dutchman for his commitment to coaching and work ethic.
“He was really important for my career. He wanted to take me to another level from the beginning until the end,” Haller said of Ten Hag, who is now the coach of Dutch giants Ajax.
“He is a fantastic coach who loves football and lives it everyday. He does everything to succeed. Sometimes he studies his opponents until late into the night.”
Haller was also full of praise for former Frankfurt manager and current Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac, while noting the differences in style with team’s new coach Adolf Hütter.
“Niko likes to control everything. He is a fighter who attaches great importance to the physique of his team. You can see that in every training and in every game,” Haller said.
“It’s different with Adi. He is more relaxed than Niko. He speaks more with the players and prefers to make the difference with the ball instead of the physical fitness. Both are outstanding coaches who analyze their opponents very well.”
Haller grew up inspired by one of France’s greatest strikers and with Ivorian blood, also admired the African nation’s most famous centre forward.
But the level-headed talent isn’t keen to emulate anyone and wants to travel his own path.
“Thierry Henry was one of my greatest role models in my childhood. As a half Ivorian I also liked Didier Drogba, later Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” he said.
“But I want to write my own story and not copy anyone.
“I do not play football to be a star. I play football because I love football.
“I realise that some see me as a star when I score a few goals. This is not a problem for me. But it’s not what I want. We must not forget that we are lucky to be football players.”
Haller’s Eintracht Frankfurt are currently in the USA for the Bundesliga break, with upcoming friendlies scheduled against Brazilian opposition Sao Paulo (January 11) and Flamengo (January 13), before resuming their league campaign against Freiburg on January 20.