The curious case of Sebastien Haller and his struggles at Borussia Dortmund

Despite finding success wherever he's gone and recently winning the Africa Cup of Nations, Sebastien Haller has endured a difficult season with Borussia Dortmund. We examine where things have gone wrong for him in recent months.
Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain: Group F - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain: Group F - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 / BSR Agency/GettyImages
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Sebastien Haller's professional career began with a stint at French side Auxerre before he joined Utrecht in the Eredivisie, winning the Di Tommaso trophy for best player. It wasn't until 2017, however, that he became a mainstay with Bundesliga fans after joining Eintracht Frankfurt. There he made a huge impact and helped them win the DFB-Pokal title. His exploits earned him a move to the English Premier League, as he joined West Ham United.

Haller's time in England was far from successful, as he quickly fell out of favor, but still managed ten goals over the season and then joined Ajax in 2020. The Dutch side fostered Haller into a world-class striker, as he found the net 32 times in just 50 appearances, wining the Eredivisie twice and the domestic cup once. Haller likely impressed the Borussia Dortmund hierarchy by scoring in both of Ajax's Champions League wins against the Black and Yellows. And the BVB bosses made the decision to sign him following Erling Haaland's move to Manchester City.

Haller became one of BVB's most expensive signings in history. It made sense from all perspectives - The Ivorian was in top form and Dortmund needed a strong striker to replace the stardom-bound Haaland. Unfortunately, less than two weeks into training, Haller was diagnosed with a malignant testicular tumor and was forced to stop training immediatly to seek medical attention.

Yet, in what was one of the world's greatest sporting comeback stories, Sebastien Haller made his competative debut for BVB in January of 2023, just six months after his cancer diagnoses. This was a much earlier return than many had anticipated, but the club had backed Haller, the fans were behind him, and this was a squad legitimately challenging for the Bundesliga title. Haller needed some time to reach his top form again, but things were very promising with the striker scoring nine goals in nineteen appearances.

The final matchday was set to be the pinnacle of this comeback story as Haller was leading his new team to their first Bundesliga title in over a decade - but things went awry. Fans shared the heartbreak of Borussia Dortmund's final matchday capitulation last season, including a missed penalty kick from Haller, that could have secured the title, and with it, the perfect comeback... Six months later, Haller finally got his comeback story, just not with Borussia Dortmund.