Mitchell Hall > Deadline day has come and gone in the Premier League, rounding off a rather inactive period for West Ham, as has been the case across European football during this pandemic window. So how do the Hammers shape up going into the back end of the season? Can they keep up their overall impressive run? And can they hold onto the hope of European qualification?
The window opened with the sale of one of West Ham’s most polarising figures in the form of Ivorian striker Sebastien Haller, to European heavy hitters Ajax. The Hammers’ record signing had a mixed time in the Premier League, showing flashes of brilliance and finishing ability, but lacking the consistency required to impress in the wider context of the season. His sale, leaving the squad with just one designated striker, caused reactions as varied as his performances.
Many seemed glad to see him gone, hoping the considerable fee and almost unthinkable thinness of the squad would ensure the purchase of a more suitable replacement further on in the window. Others however feared that the sale was irresponsible if a replacement was not ready and waiting to be announced.
The other key piece of business was the signing of Manchester United attacker Jesse Lingard on loan until the end of the season, and the permanent signing of Said Benrahma that was necessary to free up the domestic loan spot in the squad. This signing marks the reunion of Lingard and manager David Moyes, who has positive views of the loanee from his time at the helm at Old Trafford. Time will tell as to the shrewdness of this signing, but any deal to bolster the depth of the stretched squad appears to be a positive to the fans.
One notable piece of business that will surely be felt around the club is the loss of Robert Snodgrass to West Bromwich Albion. The fan favourite midfielder left chasing more game time, and it’s a sorry sight to many fans who admired his personality and work ethic.
Other business is comparatively smaller in terms of their effects on the season, with U23 players Aji Alese (Cambridge United), Goncalo Cardoso (Basel) and Oladapo Afolayan (Bolton Wanderers) all being sent out on loan, whilst the young prospect Dan Kemp has made a more permanent move to League Two outfit Leyton Orient.
Club servant Winston Reid departs on loan to Brentford, potentially sweetening relationships between the clubs before a summer move for striker target Ivan Toney.
Despite the exciting prospects of Lingard’s arrival and relatively unknown potential due to lack of game time, fans are likely to feel underwhelmed regarding the window, and even worried and frustrated over the lack of striking options going into the back half of the season. The one recognised first team striker, Michail Antonio, has been in flying form since his return, however his extensive injury history leaves the lack of replacement options even more egregious. Fans will be left biting their nails over every run he makes, fearing an injury that could leave the West Ham attack severely impeded. Some options are available in youngster Ademipo Odubeko, winger Andriy Yarmolenko, and even new signing Lingard as a false 9 forward, but there are doubts as to whether they would be enough to put in top six quality performances as West Ham strive to do in their chase. Fans will have to wait and see if they can maintain their current form, but the chances for Antonio to remain fit and for signing Lingard to shine provide some comfort to a tense yet hopeful fanbase.