Our Priority Targets:
The club’s number one priority, Carlos Bacca is an elite finisher and has a proven goal scoring record wherever he has been. He is ageing, almost 30 now, however possesses ‘fox in the box’ instincts that if anything, only develop with age and experience. He almost always finds himself in the right place at the right time, taking the majority of the chances he gets. He’s not an incredible creator, neither is he adept on his left foot; but he will guarantee goals – and that’s exactly why the club see him as the priority target. He scored 18 league goals last season in the Serie A, even though he was playing for 7th place finishers AC Milan. The curious thing about this transfer is that AC Milan are desperate to sell him to free up the extremely limited funds they have, we are very keen on bringing him to the Olympic, but unfortunately Bacca is holding out for a Champions League club. At the moment, though, it doesn’t look like one is coming in for him, and with Milan’s pressure on him to leave West Ham may just be his only option. The fee would be around £26 million, a reasonably large one for his age. Yet with his great record, the board are very happy to pay the money in order to get their man.
A natural goalscorer, Andre Ayew impressed in his debut season in the premier league, notching 12 goals and 2 assists in the process. Considering he only started 9 of his 34 league games up front I see that as a great return rate. The fee going around is about £15 million. He’s only 26 and has proven himself in the league so I believe it’s a good price; particularly if we can send Enner Valencia the other way for a similar fee, meaning we’d be breaking even. His surprising ability in the air and ruthlessness in front of goal will be crucial if he does end up playing up top for the Hammers next season. This looks to be a deal that could happen, and would likely go under the radar, even though I see it as a good bit of business if it does go through.
Mario Mandzukic is a tenacious Croatian striker, bagging goals wherever he’s been. He’s supreme in the air, last season winning 2.5 aerial battles per game meanwhile scoring 11 goals and creating 4 assists in all competitions. In 31 appearances it’s not an incredible strike rate, however in his last 107 appearances he has 55 goals – which makes for much better reading. He also worked with Bilic previously, as Bilic was at the helm of the Croatian National Team. His last 3 clubs have been Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus, who have all featured in champions league finals in the last 5 years. He’s older and more experienced than the previously mentioned option, having just turned 30, although that could always work in our favour. Particularly as he has maintained a high level of physical fitness even as he’s grown older. We’d be looking at around £15-20 million for him, which is slightly steep when paired with his age, but would well be worth it if he goes and hits 15 in his debut season.
A younger option, and one we’re looking to complete on loan is Jonathan Calleri, who scored 3 goals last season from 5 appearances while on loan at Sao Paulo. He’d unlikely be a starter at West Ham, however could well be a good, bright spark to introduce from the bench late in games. He’s perhaps most famous for his rabona goal he scored whilst playing for Boca Juniors, and unexpected moments such as that are exactly the sort of qualities that would be ideal coming on as a substitute. In terms of attributes, he’s a balanced forward, not showing great weaknesses in any area of his game. However, as someone that likes to get in behind the opposition defensive line he gets caught offside a lot, which is usually incredibly frustrating as a fan as we watch good chances go amiss. He has an aurora of flair about his play, scoring some wonderful goals the season before last, often finishing a chance that would have looked highly unlikely to be scored. Saying this though, he has only played in South American leagues and may take a while to adapt to the European game. Hammers will hope he can grow into the league like his Argentine compatriot Manuel Lanzini did the year before.
Secondary/Fall Back Targets:
An unpopular target among many West Ham fans. Benteke had an undeniably good record in the premier league during his time at Aston Villa. While he has failed to live up to the extortionate £32.5 million price tag Liverpool paid for him, he hasn’t been in favour at all under Jurgen Klopp. For a struggling Villa side he scored in almost one in every two of his 89 league appearances for the Villains. An exceptional record for the circumstances he fell in, Benteke may not be as much of a terrible transfer as many fans anticipate. He is best when you play to his strengths, which are long balls into the box and structuring your side around his game. Though his play style is quite similar to Carrolls, which could see us restricted in the options we have as we’d likely be having to play plenty of crosses to supply our aerial threats. Meaning we’d have nothing to fall back on because our options are both classic target men. The price tag is around £30 million, which is more than he’s worth, but if we do get desperate we will revert to Benteke for our marquee striker next season.
Mario Gomez is a name that many Bayern Munich fans are very fond of, having enjoyed a fabulous spell with the Bavairians, scoring 75 in his 115 league appearances. He’s now 31, a little too old for many’s liking, and additionally will demand high wages. Don’t let his age fool you however, as he was most recently at Besiktas, and during his time there he scored 26 in his 33 league games. Which, in my opinion, is a remarkable return for someone his age – even if he it was in the Turkish top flight.
Wissam Ben Yedder
Short, nippy, but with a slight tinge of broadness about him Wissam Ben Yedder draws ambitious comparisons to Sergio Aguero. His ability to cut in and out to bypass his man, manufacturing just enough space to have a crack at goal himself, or set up a teammate is what Hammers fans have been crying out for to lead their line. He’s wonderfully two footed, scoring 8 on each foot helping to make up his 17 league goals he bagged last term. 17 goals at a struggling Toulouse team is extremely impressive, making the £10 million asking price look like a rather measly fee – especially only being 25 (26 next month) years of age However, to many West Ham fan’s frustration, Bilic sees his lack of physical prowess as something that will hinder him in the Premier League.
Writing now post the transfer of Ben Yedder to Sevilla, I am very disappointed in our failure to capture the 25 year old. He has transferred for a rumoured £8 million, which I see as an absolute steal for a man of his abilities. I can only hope now that we are more swift in the market and know that unless we are more forward and ruthless with are dealings we will miss out.
Lacazette, Tevez and Batshuayi
I’m not going to bore you by talking about these three strikers. They are all top quality and were very highly coveted targets of ours around the time we were interested.
Sources: I predominantly used @ExWHUemployee for my transfer gossip. Although he takes a lot of stick on Twitter he is an extremely reliable source for West Ham news, not as of yet letting us down with his information.