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.
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.
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.