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24th August 2019

The Summer of Claret and Blue?

Image © West Ham United

The transfer window is open once again. This period of transfers’ could prove to be the biggest one for West Ham United since… last summer. Following an abysmal 2017/18 season, the club made Manuel Pellegrini the third highest paid Premier League manager and recruited £100 million worth of new players. Thankfully, the long overdue investment ensured West Ham finished comfortably in tenth place as the the claret and blue army competed to finish seventh for the majority of the Premier League campaign.

Though a much more comfortable season for the Irons, a mid-table finish leaves Pellegrini’s men at somewhat of a crossroads. In my West Ham United 2018/19 season review I mentioned the importance of clearing out the deadwood as well as bringing in new players. We’re only half way through June and already players have been coming and going at West Ham United.

Barring an embarrassing collapse by one of the big six; Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United, finishing above seventh will prove to be an almost impossible feat for any other other Premier League team in the coming 2019/20 season. However, a Europa League spot is definitely a possibility for the Hammers should the East London side get their summer right.

The summer certainly seems to have started brightly. Already the club have shelled out £24 million pound on the Spanish attacking midfielder, Pablo Fornals. The 23-year-old has impressed in the U-21 European Championship, having scored in two group games. Given that the Hammers only other true creative midfielder is Manuel Lanzini (Felipe Anderson is more of a winger) Fornals is a much needed recruit that can hopefully shine in claret and blue.

New Hammers signing, Pablo Fornals scored a fantastic winner for Spain against Belgium.

On the opposite side of the transfer coin, the likes Lucas Perez, Edimislon Fernandes, Samir Nasri, Adrian and Andy Carroll have all departed East London. In my season review, I said that the team were consistently inconsistent and I feel that our lack of depth or quality to cover the first team players played a huge part in this. The players the club have allowed to leave at this point in the window were not first choice starters and arguably deadwood.

In seven years at West Ham United, Andy Carroll started less than a third of the club’s Premier League fixtures, all the while being one of the highest earners at the club, sitting on a fat £100,000 per week. If not for private medical care, I’m sure the NHS would have already folded had Andy Carroll been a patient of theirs. With that huge wage bill off the books, the Hammers should now be able to bring in a less injury prone player of a higher quality.

The departures at the London Stadium may not be over. Over the last week, centre back Issa Diop has been linked with a huge money move to Manchester United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sets about his huge mission to return glory to the red side of Manchester. The offers I’ve seen range all the way up to £70 million with Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all potentially part of a deal.

As highly as Issa Diop is rated, that kind of money is silly. However, I am glad that is the bar the club has set. If he does leave, at least West Ham will get well over the odds for the young Frenchmen and as a result it looks likely he will stay. Regardless of the outcome, whether he remains in East London or leaves for an obscene amount of money, as long as the Irons don’t receive Phil Jones as part of the deal, it’s a win for the Hammers.

Given the club’s current situation, West Ham could certainly do with one, if not two strikers to patch the holes left by Lucas Perez and Andy Carroll. Martial would certainly be welcome at West Ham if he was part of a deal for Diop, while there are also talks of deal for Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez with the money ranging from £45-60 million.

All in all, the foundations for a great season are certainly there for the Hammers. An extra three or four recruits of good quality could make all the difference for Manuel Pellegrini’s side as West Ham aim to set themselves on a claret and blue path towards European football and cup glory.

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