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Fyodor Smolov could be the answer to West Ham’s striking woes

The Hammers have been linked with the Russian International Team’s captain.

Jake Jackman

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Fyodor Smolov
Photo: Getty Images

West Ham United have had awful luck when it comes to recruiting strikers in recent years. The likes of Andy Carroll, Javier Hernandez, Simone Zaza and many others have arrived at the club, but none have managed to make the starting berth their own.

If the Hammers do stay up this season, a striker will be high on their list of priorities again this summer and the Mirror report that the club are confident of signing Kranodar front-man Fyodor Smolov for a fee of £15 million.

The 28-year-old is regarded as one of the best players in Russia and he will captain his country at this summer’s World Cup. However, there are doubts regarding his ability to adapt to the Premier League and replicate his form in this country.

For a fee of £15 million, it would have the potential to be a bargain in the current market, but he could follow in the foot-steps of many of his predecessors and flop at the London Stadium.

(Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

The best way to describe Smolov is a goal-scorer. He is very good at taking up the right positions in the final third and can score all types of goals, which makes him so dangerous to play against. His record for both club and country highlights that.

For Krasnodar, he has scored 50 times in the Russian league across the last three seasons. Meanwhile, he has 12 goals for the national team and will be one of their main hopes for progression this summer.

Although he is most dangerous when taking up positions in the penalty box, Smolov is able to drop deep and contribute to the build-up play when required. He is a skilful dribbler and able to beat opposition defenders in the final third, while he possesses an excellent shot from distance.

In the Russian League, the threat he poses often leads to defenders man-marking him and that opens up space for other attackers in the league.

Sky Sports report that Smolov wants the transfer to be completed before the World Cup and that could be the right move from West Ham.

There is always a danger that a player can star at a tournament and attract interest from bigger clubs. As he will be one of the main players for the host nation, there is a good chance that he could have a great tournament and that could be a bad thing for the Hammers.

(Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

With a number of matches left in the season, it is odd for a transfer story to build this early, but it is clear that there is interest from West Ham as a number of reputable sources have reported the potential Smolov deal.

The Hammers will have scouted him a lot and their interest is long-standing, which suggests a deal could be done quickly once their Premier League status is guaranteed.

A lot of their problems this season have been caused by the lack of a goal-scorer. Their leading scorers in the Premier League are Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic with seven each. Although he has scored some important goals, the former hasn’t adapted to the style at West Ham and could be on the move again this summer.

The club can’t afford to make another expensive striking mistake and Smolov does look like he could be the right fit for the London Stadium. He is a natural goal-scorer and will want to prove himself in a bigger division. There will be risks attached to the deal, but £15 million is a gamble worth taking.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Tottenham Hotspur

Salomon Rondon would be ideal back-up for Harry Kane and Tottenham

Josh Kerr

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Salomon Rondon
Photo: Getty Images

According to reports from the Daily Mirror, Tottenham Hotspur are interested in adding West Bromwich Albion‘s Salomon Rondon to their attacking ranks.

The recently relegated striker will be hoping to stay in the Premier League and Mauricio Pochettino can ensure that happens for the Venezuela international.

Harry Kane has been a revelation once again for the Lilywhites firing 30 league goals this season and was also nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award.

However, Pochettino has still not found a suitable back-up for the Englishman and is already looking for another replacement.

Fernando Llorente was signed from Swansea last season after Vincent Janssen failed to make an impact in north London.

However, the 33-year-old striker could not improve on his 15 goal tally for the Swans that kept them in the top flight a year ago.

The Spanish forward has one goal in 16 Premier League appearances for Spurs and it’s understandable that Pochettino already wants a replacement.

Rondon would not be a signing that should get fans excited by any means.

After all, he does not represent a world-class striker in the slightest and, similarly to Llorente, he has spent the majority of his Premier League career scrapping at the bottom end of the table.

Despite finishing rock bottom in the league this campaign, Rondon was one of those who emerged from the season with some credibility, scoring 10 goals in all competitions for the Baggies.

The Baggies forward is a striker who has often looked isolated and lacking options in a West Brom side that has struggled to get the best out of him.

In a flourishing Spurs team, his Premier League goal tally, of 24, could steadily improve.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Rondon has a relegation release clause in his contract that can see him leave the Midlands side for a reported fee of £16.5 million.

This may be off-putting for Spurs fans as the fee is not cheap considering the Venezuelan’s lack of firepower.

However, at 28, he is five years younger than Llorente and would only cost £2 million more than the fee they paid for the Spaniard, so it’s not the worst transfer when wanting more attacking options.

There’s no doubt that Llorente has struggled at Wembley this season and at 33, Levy may be tempted to move the former Juventus striker on and refresh his forward line.

A club of Spurs’ stature will always be linked with bigger names, but Rondon could still be a smart appointment for the Londoners.

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Stoke City

Three key areas for Gary Rowett to address at Stoke City over the summer

Martyn Cooke

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On Tuesday evening Stoke City announced that Gary Rowett had been appointed as their new manager.

The 44-year-old replaces Paul Lambert, who departed the club following relegation from the Premier League, and now faces the task of building a team capable of making an immediate return to the top-flight.

Rowett led Derby County to the Championship play-offs this season, ultimately losing out to Fulham, and is regarded as one of the brightest, young British managers in the country. Stoke were previously linked with the former Burton Albion and Birmingham City manager in January and have reportedly paid around £2 million in compensation to secure his services.

However, whilst the Potters may possess a superior budget to many of their counterparts in the Championship an immediate return to the Premier League is certainly not guaranteed. The playing squad requires a dramatic overhaul during the summer and the second tier of English football is notoriously unpredictable and competitive.

Here, The Boot Room highlights three key areas that Rowett must address in order to revive Stoke’s fortunes.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Convince big-name players to stay

When a club is relegated from the Premier League they normally undergo a rapid fire sale of their best players in order to reduce the wage bill and balance the books.

However, that is not necessarily the case with Stoke. The Potters are in a solid financial position and are funded by Peter Coates, owner of online betting company Bet365, who is a local entrepreneur and has the club’s best intentions at heart.

The first task for Rowett will be to try and convince some of Stoke’s star assets to remain at the Bet365 Stadium and lead a promotion challenge.

Whilst figures such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Jack Butland are almost certainly likely to depart the club during the summer, there are others that might be tempted to stay put.

Joe Allen and Moritz Bauer have already tentatively suggested that they might be willing to remain whilst Rowett should also focus on keeping hold of other key figures such as Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi and Badou Ndiaye.

Stoke will be more capable of building a squad capable of challenging for promotion if Rowett can convince some of the key figures in the squad to stay.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Get things right in the transfer market

One key factor in Stoke’s downfall over the previous two years has been the club’s horrendous transfer policy.

It is amazing to think that the Potters have spent £12 million on Saido Berahino, who has yet to score a goal for the club, £18 million on Kevin Wimmer, who was demoted to the under-23 squad for much of the season, and a further £18.3  million on Giannelli Imbula, who spent the year on loan in France.

Quite simply, Rowett cannot afford to make similar, costly mistakes as he overhauls the team during the summer.

The club need to move away from so-called ‘big name’ players who have little affection for the club, such as Jese Rodriguez, and ageing stalwarts that are entering the twilight of their careers, such as Darren Fletcher. Stoke need to build a young, hungry and dynamic team that are motivated, driven and still have everything to prove.

However, that is certainly easier said than done.

Rowett will be handed a significant transfer budget, which will be further increased by players sales, to build a team capable of securing promotion and he needs to ensure that the money is spent much more wisely than it has been in the recent past.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Re-discover Stoke’s identity

Over the previous two years Stoke have gradually lost their idiosyncratic identity – much to the detriment of the club. The Potters have always been at their best when they have a clear identity, philosophy and direction.

Under Tony Pulis, Stoke were characterised as a hard working, well organised team that employed a direct style of football that relied on transferring the ball into the opponents eighteen yard box as often as possible. It was not to everyone’s taste, but it was effective and supporters knew exactly what they were going to get.

Mark Hughes altered that identity and built a team that was characterised by foreign flair, technical brilliance and a possession-based style of play. Three consecutive top half finishes followed and the media referred to the club as ‘Stoke-a-lona’ in reference to the team’s new style of play.

It was when Hughes began to move away from that definitive identity that the Potters lost all sense of direction.

It is vital that Rowett implements his own footballing philosophy and creates a clear, definitive identity that the Stoke supporters can unite behind. The philosophies of Pulis and Hughes probably sit at extreme, contrasting ends of the spectrum and the 44-year-old may be aiming to find the middle ground that balances hard work, discipline and creativity.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham fans react to latest Mousa Dembele contract setback

Josh Kerr

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Mousa Dembele
Photo: Getty Images

According to the Evening Standard, Mousa Dembele’s agent claims the Belgian international will not sign a new contract with Tottenham Hotspur before the summer World Cup.

The 30-year-old is set to enter the final year of his Spurs contract, which expires on June 30 next year, and the club’s supporters are understandably growing impatient.

According to earlier reports by the MirrorMauricio Pochettino is ready to listen to offers for the likes of Mousa Dembele, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose and Moussa Sissoko.

Dembele was one of the names shortlisted and has been a revelation in his six seasons at the club.

However, despite another successful season in north London, the former Fulham midfielder is likely to put an end to his love affair with the Lilywhites.

Dembele’s current deal expires in 12 months and, after starting just 21 of 38 League games, he may be considering other options for the final years of his career.

Spurs fans reacted to his agent’s comments, with the majority urging Pochettino to offload the powerhouse midfielder this summer and find a suitable replacement for the Belgium superstar.

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