Three signings West Ham need to make to avoid a relegation battle
With somewhat of a mixed performance against Liverpool, unconvincing victories against Hull and Burnley plus overall below average showings throughout the season, Slaven Bilic will be eyeing the January transfer window with hopeful glee as he attempts to resurrect West Ham’s fortunes – which as the song suggests, have been hiding. Within a few months, West Ham have quickly transformed from Europa League chasers to relegation candidates. As such, this transfer window will be one of the most important in several years. With this summer’s dealings being a unanimous failure, besides the permanent signing of Manuel Lanzini, the board and Slaven will be under pressure to pluck a diamond from the rough or pull a rabbit from the hat. Perhaps instead of focussing on a dozen targets, it would be ideal to make three major acquisitions instead, such as the ones below…
Kieran Trippier – Tottenham
Unlike what some of mainstream media have suggested, West Ham do not have a goalkeeping crisis. Darren Randolph’s blunder against Liverpool was nowhere near as bad as it initially appeared and the Irishman has been impressive in his handful of appearances in the league this year. With Adrian in reserve, West Ham have one of the strongest goalkeeping duos in the league. The main conundrum is the position of right back. Throughout 2016, this has been filled by various non-right backs, including James Tomkins, Chiekhou Kouyate and, most notably, Michail Antonio. The young Sam Byram will surely make the position his own next season once he recovers from set backs, but until then, an experienced head needs to come in a take control. Alvaro Arbeloa would’ve been a good candidate had the year been 2012, but alas he has appeared past it and sluggish during his limited game time. Kieran Trippier is receiving very limited pitch action at Tottenham, with both Kyle Walker and possibly Eric Dier ahead of him in the pecking order. He has proved to be a reliable defender with strong attacking intent in previous seasons with former club Burnley, and at the age of 26, is still approaching the prime of his career. With Bilic using a formation that requires the wing back to push up and track back regularly, Trippier would represent an ideal solution. The likelyhood that Tottenham will sell to their neighbours (not quite rivals) is low, but the Hammers should at least give it a go.
Morgan Schneiderlin – Manchester United
One of West Ham’s main problems has been a lack of leaders willing to take the team by the scruff of the neck in a tricky situation. Sure, captain Mark Noble is the heart and soul of the team, but excluding him there are hardly any dominating figures. 27-year-old Schneiderlin was instrumental for Southampton before switching to Manchester United. However, the re-emergence of Michael Carrick, the form of Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba’s mammoth price tag and potential means Schneiderlin is quite far down the pecking order at Old Trafford. For someone of the Frenchman’s talent, he is very much being wasted, and although a transfer fee of £24 million would be no drop in the ocean, the fact that over £30 million was spent on Europa League fodder means that the price tag is more than justifiable. The Hammers look weak defensively against tougher teams, so Schneiderlin playing alongside the likes of Pedro Obiang, Noble and Kouyate would surely be blessing. With West Brom and a few other mid-table clubs on the hunt for the Frenchman, West Ham should waste no time in making their intentions known.
Olivier Giroud – Arsenal
Previously indispensable to Arsenal during their wilderness seasons in the post-2012 era, Giroud’s future is now somewhat unclear with Alexis Sanchez being the main lone striker for Arsene Wenger’s side. The signing of Lucas Perez means that, like Schneiderlin, he is sliding down the pecking order despite not being overwhelmingly disappointing. To date, Giroud has notched 88 goals for Arsenal in just over 200 appearances, and it’s been a long time since West Ham had a consistent goal scorer with that kind of credibility – not since the days of, dare I say, Carlton Cole and Bobby Zamora. At 30, Giroud’s transfer fee isn’t likely to be bank-draining and the experience and guarantee of goals he will bring to the side will be crucial. Strong in the air like Andy Carroll but with better ability when the ball is on the floor, Giroud would surely be a first teamer as soon as he walks into the London Stadium. In fact, him and Carroll upfront would be anyone defending a corner’s worst nightmare. Admittedly, he might not be the Michy Batshuayi or Alexandre Lacazette that West Ham crave – but at least he’s not Simone Zaza…
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