Written by Max Friend @eastlondonviews
This transfer window, that is the question us West Ham supporters need to be asking.
With rumored big money moves being reported for the likes of Lazio’s Felipe Anderson and the Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves and jump in two footed with these transfers, but instead consider do these players have the quality, strength and pace for the Premier League.
Now, I am the first to support Sullivan in his new-found lavish spending, but we need to invest in proven Premier League talent now more so than ever. The likes of Arnautovic and Hernandez have both turned out excellent signings, both of them having previously shone for their respective English clubs. I believe Fabianski could be a coup for us, £7m being an absolute snip in today’s market, and we need to continue building a strong, reliable core to our side if we are going to push to establish ourselves as a top half team. This tactic has been employed in the transfer market by a positional rival of ours in Leicester. Having signed centre back Jonny Evans for a bargain £3m and young prospect James Maddison (formerly of Norwich) for £22m, they now have a sturdy backbone which can then be built upon with riskier signings.
I have seen many debates over whether or not our deals for Diop, Anderson and Yarmolenko, all coming with £20m plus price tags, warrant value for money. A common argument used in favour of these signings are examples such as Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini, two of our most naturally gifted players in recent times, who both came to West Ham with no prior experience of English football. However these deals were for relatively modest prices and therefore warranted the risk and luckily both paid off. In the past two seasons we have taken two players on loan from Italy (where Anderson plies his trade), the now infamous Simone Zaza and Joao Mario. Both of these players came with obscene suggested price tags, amounts of money that quite frankly make you wonder whether it was the same player in question. These two players seem to me to be completely incompatible with the English game, with a blatantly apparent lack of pace and physicality shown. However, both of these players were highly regarded in the Serie A, leading me to believe caution must be exercised in these foreign markets.
I am obviously aware that we can’t build a whole team of seasoned, successful Premier League players, especially in today’s climate where obscene amounts are added on to homegrown players values, but I believe the £80m we’re planning to spend on Diop, Anderson and Yarmolenko could be better and more safely invested on the following players:
James Tomkins – a local boy, would bleed for the shirt and we all know what an excellent defender he is having seen him come through the ranks with our own eyes. I think we would expect to pay around the £15m we let him go for at the beginning of the 2016/17 season, which in my opinion proves better value than the £20m price tag put on Issa Diop.
Luke Shaw – after finding himself down the pecking order at United after his return from a broken leg, the former Southampton prodigy could be seeking pastures new this summer. For £15m to £20m and with us likely to return to a flat back four, Shaw would provide great competition for Aaron Cresswell and push him to improve his own game. This would also free Masuaku from his defensive duties and allow him to play in his preferred position further up the field.
Jack Wilshere – a hammer growing up and one of England’s finest players when fit, but there’s the catch. Having run out of contract at Arsenal, he is now expected to sign for us on a free transfer, penning a £100,000 a week pay-as-you-play contract. While his injury record will in all likelihood hamper the rest of the career, it is a risk I’m willing to take as he is magnificent when fit.
Jonjo Shelvey – a former West Ham youth player, we were heavily linked with a move for him in January before it fell through due to Newcastle’s inability to source an adequate replacement. Shelvey would cost us around £20m, but would make a terrific signing, dictating the play from deep with the likes of Arnautovic, Lanzini, Hernandez and more ahead of him. Jonjo would be the central midfielder we’ve been needing for years, partnering any of Wilshere, Noble, Obiang or Kouyate in the middle of the park.
Adam Lallana – after an injury plagued campaign, Liverpool could be looking to offload the former Saints man for a price of around £25mil. Lallana could become a pivotal part of our midfield, providing the stability we currently lack.
Xherdan Shaqiri – after Stoke’s relegation from the top flight, their midfield maestro looks set to leave the Britannia. With a rumoured release clause of £14m, we would be mad not to explore his availability. Being on good terms with Arnautovic, they would present a formidable partnership and add to the quality previously only brought to the side by Marko and Lanzini.
Mario Balotelli – another close friend of Arnautovic from their days together at Inter Milan. Whilst his talent is obvious, questions regarding his attitude have dogged him wherever he’s gone. Available on a free transfer after his contract expired following a successful stint at Ligue 1 outfit Nice, he is worth a punt
Whoever we do bring in, it’s imperative we all wipe the slate clean, get behind the team and have a fresh start.
Here’s hoping for a better season than the last couple.
Up the hammers.