Following the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as the new West Ham manager, it seems that the much-maligned board might be beginning to finally follow-through on its myriad promises to take the club to the “the next level”. With a new stadium and a high-profile manager in place, it makes sense that big signings will naturally follow. West Ham fans will, no doubt, ask why this considerable improvement took so long to materialise – had the board acted quicker, they could have spared themselves a significant amount of trouble. One thing’s for sure, however: The board have realised that swift action was necessary in order to avoid a repetition of the unrest that marred the 2017/18 campaign. Who, then, will the Hammers target? And will their summer acquisitions be enough to realise the board’s long-overdue promises and vision?
Pellegrini’s first course of action
Undoubtedly, any lingering murmurs of discontent will be silenced if this summer’s window proves to be a successful one. If the rumours are to be believed, Pellegrini, the third highest paid manager in the league, will have £75million to spend. And if you factor in any fees recouped from the sale of other players, he could well have a £100M war chest at his disposal.
A sensible opening gambit for Pellegrini would be to secure the signature of Joao Mario, who is currently on loan at the club from Inter Milan. Despite, Inter’s £26M valuation, West Ham are keen to sign the midfielder for £20M. With his agent casting the net widely for other offers, West Ham must pray the Portuguese doesn’t catch eyes at the World Cup, where his value could skyrocket, leaving the Hammers unable to compete with clubs possessing deeper pockets.
Another player who is strongly linked to the club is out-of-contract Fulham full-back, Ryan Fredericks — who is reportedly in the final stages of talks with West Ham. After failing to agree terms with the Playoff winners, Fredericks would be available on a free transfer, making his acquisition a smart piece of business. Like Mario, this is a transfer Pellegrini should look to wrap up sooner rather than later, and the acquisition of a pair of centre-backs shouldn’t be too far behind. With James Collins now gone, and Reece Oxford also touted to be leaving, the club ought to look at Jonny Evans, Craig Dawson, and Alfie Mawson.
Rebuilding the midfield
Pedro Obiang is another player rumoured to be leaving, favouring to return to Italy. He would be worth around £18-20M. Joe Allen would be a decent replacement, with a great work rate and a willingness to get stuck in. I don’t feel that he was given the chance he deserved at Liverpool. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also being linked with the club, although it’s unlikely that Chelsea would be happy to see him leave.
If rumours are to be believed, West Ham are also in talks to sign Felipe Anderson, the Lazio winger, as a replacement for the sorely missed Payet. However, he would command fees of around £35million. Considering Snodgrass was farmed off to Villa on loan, and it’s unlikely the club would want him back, they could use him as part-payment for Jack Grealish, who may be looking for a way out after Villa’s failure to secure promotion. Another great signing for West Ham would be Middlesbrough winger Adama Traore.
Currently, the club are in talks with PSG for attacking midfielder Javier Pastore, although he’d have to accept a wage cut (from €180,000 a week) to move. He would be available for £17.5million and would be a statement of intent for Pellegrini’s reign. PSG are keen to sell him, to ensure they comply with UEFA’s financial fair play regulations.
Finding strikers to suit Pellegrini
With Andy Carroll likely to leave — given the fact his style of aerial attack doesn’t complement Pellegrini’s favoured fast, on the ground play — West Ham must find a suitable replacement. Man United’s interest in Arnautovic also makes seeking a top-quality striker more important than ever. Mario Balotelli could be a viable choice given his contract is expiring. His fiery attitude would fit in well with the squad, although he has taken it down a notch of late. He’s also good friends with Arnautovic, who, if he stays, would serve as an incentive to join West Ham.
Rondon, who will be looking for an escape from West Brom’s new-found Championship status, has also been touted. After having worked with Pellegrini at Malaga, he could be a good choice. Javier Hernandez will also have to make a big decision this summer, but has said he wants to wait until after the tournament before committing to his future at the club. Pellegrini is, however, believed to be keen on him staying, as a focal point of his attack. Obviously, Jordan Hugill will go – after being signed for £8million and only playing 33 minutes of football. West Ham, then, will have space for two acquisitions up-front.
A headache in goal
After the fiasco that was Joe Hart, West Ham are in desperate need of a quality keeper. Pellegrini dropped Hart at City (for Pantilimon), so it’s virtually unthinkable that his loan would be extended for a second season. With inconsistent performances, Adrian may not be able to step up and stake a claim for first-choice keeper. As was shown earlier in the season, he doesn’t like playing second fiddle, and if West Ham sign a big name, he’s likely to leave.
The club have been linked with a variety of replacements, ranging from Caballero to Fabianski. Initially, they were also linked to Jack Butland, who was reportedly available for £30M. However, Chelsea are now also rumoured to want him as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois. With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine West Ham being Butland’s chosen destination. Another possible replacement could be Tom Heaton, who might not take kindly to being displaced by Nick Pope at Burnley.
Making good on the promises?
Overall, this summer’s transfer window looks promising for West Ham, with a wealth of targets available. For once, their board might put their money where their mouth is. The club now has the right manager in place, and looks set to provide him with ample ammunition going into the transfer window. The question then becomes whether West Ham can make it work, and deliver on the board’s string of long overdue promises.