West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has confirmed the club is closing in on the signing of Juventus forward Simone Zaza.
His arrival will be a boost to the Hammers after being embarrassed by Astra Giurgiu last night at the London Stadium. Missed opportunities were the crux of the problem for the Irons last night and the impending arrival of the Juventus man will be a welcome one.
It is thought that he will initially join on a season-long loan deal with a view to a permanent transfer next summer, which would smash the current record fee paid by the Hammers. The fee will be in the region of 25 million pounds for the Italian international.
The 25-year-old had a stuttering start to his career at Atlanta starting just three games before being transferred to Sampdoria in 2010, where despite receiving many first team call-ups, he would only make two appearances for Il Doria before being sent out on loan to numerous Italian clubs. His first competitive goal came in the lower echelons of Italian football for minnows Viareggio based in Tuscany. The forward enjoyed a prosperous time bagging 11 goals in 18 appearances. That record ensured he went up a few leagues to Ascoli, where his form continued to improve scoring 18 goals in 35 games.
Juventus then bought the Italian outright after impressive loan spells, but Zaza signed a co-agreement with Sassuolo, where he would ply his trade for a couple of seasons. He went on to make 64 Serie A appearances for I Neroverdi scoring 20 goals before moving to Turin permanently. He has, though, perhaps unsurprisingly found first team chances limited at the Old Lady just appearing in 19 matches scoring five goals, he has of course already scored at his potential new home in the Hammers inaugural ‘opening’ against Juventus, so Zaza should have good memories of the London Stadium.
After flitting around Italy, Zaza now looks set to make the East End his home and is likely to go straight into the squad for Manchester City on Sunday should he sign the paperwork in time. He is a player that Bilic has admired for a long time having tried to welcome the Italian to Upton Park last year only for the 25-year-old to decide he wanted to try and battle for his place in the Juventus first team, but now it finally seems that Slaven has his man.
In his pre-match Presser ahead of Sunday’s clash against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Bilic had this to say on the Zaza transfer.
He said, “With the Zaza situation, it looks very likely to happen and should happen today. As far as I know the deal is agreed between the two clubs.
“The personal terms are also agreed and he is due into London today, so we hope it will be done.
“It’s very positive and a boost. We’ve been trying for a long time now to get a top-quality striker and he was always mentioned.”
Another forward who might see his opportunities around the first team become more frequent is Ashley Fletcher, who was one of few to impress for the Irons last night.
The former Manchester United man has seen opportunities limited thus far, but his bright displays against Bournemouth and Astra have not gone unnoticed by Bilic.
The Croatian said, “Fletcher did really well last night, and he also made a really big impact against Bournemouth. He’s one of the reasons we won.
“He makes the pitch big. He did a really good pre-season with us and scored goals against good opposition.
“He is a very bright lad and is willing to work, to train and to learn and to make sacrifices and we’ll benefit from him in the future.”