George Marchant > What a season! A record number of Premier League wins, a record points total and the second highest finish in our Premier League history. David Moyes and the team gave us upmost joy this season and the honour of gloating to our north London neighbours that they were looking up at claret and blue in the table.
Finishing 6th has presented us with the opportunity to play European football again after a 4-year gap. It has been 4 years since we were booted out of the Europa League qualifying rounds by Astra GooGoo for the second year running. However, next season we have more reason to relax as the Romanian team did not qualify for Europe this year. We like to think that it was just our luck to be dumped out of the competition in that fashion, but a pragmatic mind will know the real reason why we exited so early; we simply did not have the quality of players to get the job done. This was mainly down to our recruitment in the summer of 2016. Quantity of quality was clearly the ethos our owners decided to go with during the transfer window.
The summer of 2021 will present the owners and manager with a fresh slate. A fresh slate to recruit properly and put past the demons of signing players on the downward slope of their career looking for a fast buck. It is clear that the main position we need to recruit for is another Striker.
Antonio has once again shown his quality but at times given us a reminder that he is not an out and out striker. In the summer of 2016, West Ham were consistently linked with Lacazette from Lyon. After weeks of rumours circulating the West Ham world, news broke that we had in fact signed Simone Zaza from Juventus on Loan. Lacazette went off to Arsenal and we were left with one of the worst strikers to grace our shirt. Surely, we can’t make the same mistake twice of leaving it too late to sign someone and having to panic buy right at the depth of the transfer window. The club have already shortlisted Tammy Abraham and a potential and controversial move for an Arnautovic return. Abraham shows signs of ambition from us as he is the most likely candidate to become the 10+ goal a season striker we have been looking for. Arnautovic however is a different story. Although he could come in and easily do the job as back up striker, he left on such bad blood that it would be hard to win fans over again and the only way that can happen is if he performs week in and week out.
Another candidate on our list is Alex Kral of Spartak Moscow. We have needed a top-quality midfield cover for some time now as Mark Noble reaches his retirement. Touted to become the next Rosický, Kral has the blueprints to become a top-quality box to box midfielder in his career. The Czech CDM has links to Slavia Prague and has the same agent as Vlad Coufal. These show promising signs that a deal could be sorted fairly early on in the window.
Sam Johnstone is another one of David Moyes’s targets who could be on the West ham books early doors. With 4 first team keepers currently in the West Ham squad, it seems odd that we are prioritising trying to buy a keeper. Fabianski is still a top Premier League keeper and Randolph can certainly play his part. David Martin may not be the quality we aspire for,but he does a great job a 3rd choice. Finally, Nathan Trott is touted to be a top-level keeper and is only a few years away from being properly considered for game time. However, our 3 main keepers have an average age of 35 years old. Yes, keepers can play on longer than outfield players but we need a fresh pair of hands and Johnstone certainly stood out as one of the better performers in the relegated West Brom side. The figure being mentioned is around £18 million which for a 28-year-old keeper may sound a lot but the years of service he could offer surely would make up for that.
The players mentioned above should be able to add the much-needed depth to our depleted squad but actually have the ability and skill to contribute when needed. The names being mentioned all present a glimmer of hope that we can seriously compete and be up there with the big boys again next season whilst making a proud effort to go as far as possible in Europe. Exciting times are ahead!