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Why West Ham’s recruitment policy is lacking from a tactical perspective

Jake Jackman

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West Ham

Summer recruitment at West Ham is beginning to ramp up and there is excitement among supporters regarding the players being targeted. According to Sky Sports, they have agreed on a fee for Marko Arnautovic, believed to be in the region of £24 million.

Meanwhile, they are keen to add Javier Hernandez to their striking options and are growing confident that a deal can be completed for the Mexican international, as the Standard reports. If the pair are both signed, they will join Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart as new signings at the London Stadium.

All four are distinguished internationals, who already have a proven pedigree in the Premier League. Between them, they have won a lot of trophies and they will bring a winning mentality to the dressing room. The positives are clear, but the process of squad building being carried out by West Ham needs to be questioned.

Individuals do bring excitement to a fan-base, but the team is more important to earning success. Currently, it does look like West Ham are building a squad of individuals rather than a team.

For the last two seasons, West Ham have targeted proven quantities on the whole as was clear last season with the additions of Andre Ayew, Jose Fonte and Robert Snodgrass. They all had big reputations from what they had produced for their previous Premier League clubs, but none of the three have managed to repeat those exploits for the Hammers to date.

There appears to be a lack of tactical planning when it comes to transfers, as their new signings often fail to fit into the system that Slaven Bilic wants to play. It can even be argued that the Hammers don’t have a clear style, as they ended up switching systems frequently during the previous campaign.

They were expected to challenge the top six after the move to the London Stadium, but they ended up regressing massively and finished in 11th place. Neither their attack nor defence was particularly impressive and that is mainly due to the lack of an identity. Their signings and rumoured targets suggest that a similar theme could emerge this season.

Pablo Zabaleta has a lot of experience and is a good character to have around the dressing room. However, his best days are behind him and it is a transfer that is very similar to the one of Alvaro Arbeloa last summer, which didn’t go well. Joe Hart makes sense, but his wages are huge and he will be expecting to play every week. It is difficult to see West Ham dropping the England international if he plays poorly, which means he could quickly become a problem for the club.

The pursuit of Arnautovic makes little sense based on his lack of consistency and work rate. He is an exciting player on his day, but he isn’t going to turn up every week and that makes it difficult to build a consistent attacking unit. Stoke City have had similar problems to West Ham, as they lack an identity and bring in players based on name value. The Austrian international has been central to those problems and it is hard to see him being any better at the London Stadium.

West Ham have wanted to bring in a striker with name value for a while and it does appear that Hernandez could join the club this summer. His wages will be significant and he hasn’t been as good during the last 12 months. At the age of 29, he is likely to be on a downwards trajectory.

There is no doubting his goal-scoring record, but it is another move that lacks tactical sense. He differs completely from Andy Carroll and, unless they play together, the team will have to change their approach based on their striker.

It will be interesting to see how West Ham do this season as their transfer business lacks sense for the second summer in a row. Most Premier League clubs have become smarter in the transfer market, as they pinpoint what type of player they need for their system before targeting somebody that fits that criteria.

However, West Ham appear to be targeting individuals, before trying to fit them into a system. That is the wrong way to recruit and makes Bilic’s job even harder. On paper, their business may look exciting, but in reality, the Croatian head coach faces a huge test to make it work.

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.

Crystal Palace

West Ham round up: Lucasz Fabianksi, Issa Diop in next 24 hours, Roma enter race for Javier Pastore

A round-up of the day’s most interesting news surrounding West Ham.

Jamie Watts

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Double unveiling in next 24 hours?

West Ham have been negotiating deals for Swansea City goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianski and Toulouse centre-back Issa Diop for over a week now, and the Evening Standard are reporting that a double unveiling is imminent in the next 24 hours.

Manuel Pellegrini is set to encore the signing of Fulham fullback Ryan Fredericks with the Poland goalkeeper, having agreed a three-year deal, with £7 million going to the recently relegated Swans. The delay is said to be due to the 33-year-old’s inclusion in his nations clash with Senegal today.

Diop has reportedly completed his medical in London yesterday, despite interest from the likes of Everton and Sevilla, with RMC Sport claiming the player will sign a five-year deal at the London Stadium, tying him until the club until 2033 for a fee of around £22 million.

Photo: Getty Images

Pastore falling through?

Pellegrini had expressed an interest in signing Paris Saint Germain want-away Javier Pastore earlier this month, but talks have stalled over constant financial issues and it now appears Italian giants Roma are keen to move in, according to ESPN.

Sky Sports Italy are suggesting that Roma is the more appealing option to the 28-year-old, and are even claiming that the Argentine’s agent Marcelo Simonian has flown to Italy and has agreed a £24 million deal for a four-year contract, with the option to extend another year in the capital.

Photo: Getty Images

Antonio to Palace?

Crystal Palace could make a move for West Ham winger Michail Antonio this summer as they look to add more firepower to their squad after securing Premier League survival.

According to the Daily Mirror, Antonio has been told he is not part of the Hammers’ long-term plans under the new management of Pellegrini and is set to leave.

The Hammers are apparently open to offers and it is suggested that Palace might face stiff competition for a player who has scored 20 goals in 76 Premier League appearances.

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Arsenal

Ever Banega could be the midfielder Manuel Pellegrini is looking for at West Ham

Manuel Pellegrini should look to act now if he’s serious about landing quality midfielders this summer.

Jamie Watts

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Valencia midfielder Ever Banega is reportedly being courted by Arsenal this summer, according to Gazza Mercato, as Unai Emery has managed the Argentine international at both Valencia and Sevilla. But West Ham should be looking to get in on the action.

The reports claim the 29-year-old’s agent will fly to north London to hold talks with the Gunners over a potential move, but Manuel Pellegrini will surely throw his name in the hat once the player arrives in the capital.

At the reported fee of £10.5 million – with his contract set to expire imminently – the former Inter Milan man could very well become the bargain of the summer, in a frantic market where players of his calibre go for five times the fee.

Photo: Getty Images

Pellegrini has been tasked with getting West Ham back to playing attacking and progressive football next term, and has identified a midfielder as the key to ushering in his new philosophy. The Chilean boss has courted the likes of Javier Pastore, Yaya Toure, Mario Lemina and most recently Jack Wilshere, but progress has stalled recently on the first three, and Banega could present a key opportunity to land a serious player on great terms.

The fleet-footed play-maker bases his game around control and creativity, buzzing around receiving the ball to feet frequently, before crafting attacks using his exceptional vision and passing range.

Photo: Getty Images

Banega’s impact was incredibly noticeable in Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland at the weekend, as a second-half introduction sparked Lionel Messi and co into a far more dangerous outfit. The little maestro was constantly available for the ball and kept pressure sustained for long-periods, acting as the catalyst for building attacks after a disjointed first-half display.

And his style would certainly elevate the Hammers’ play next season in the England. Banega is that good, he could quickly become recognised as one of the finest Premier League midfielders and Pellegrini may regret letting him go to Arsenal uncontested.

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Bayer Leverkusen

After Felipe Anderson £35m valuation West Ham should turn attention to Julian Brandt

West Ham should enquire for the German starlet if Lazio maintain their stance.

Jamie Watts

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West Ham have been pursuing Felipe Anderson for the last few weeks, with it looking increasingly likely the Brazilian will end up joining the ranks at the London Stadium. However, the latest reports from the Mirror are suggesting Lazio are demanding £35 million for the player, which is proving something of a stumbling block for the Hammers.

Perhaps Manuel Pellegrini should begin enquiring for alternatives, as the pursuit for Anderson continues to throw up new issues on a daily basis. First the 25-year-old’s wages proved caused an issue, followed by Lazio’s desire for a sell-on clause to be inserted in any deal, and now the asking price has reportedly rocketed from £29 million to £35 million.

Photo: Getty Images

It’s not worth ending negotiations at this early stage, but there’s no harm in looking into alternatives, and the opportunity for a better deal may come along. As such, Pellegrini should reach out to Bayer Leverkusen over the possibility of signing the man preferred to Leroy Sane in the German World Cup squad, Julian Brandt.

Formerly a winner of the Fritz-Walter Gold Medal – awarded to the most talented players in Germany – Brandt has been producing quality performances for a long-time in the Bundesliga despite being just 22. Leverkusen snapped up the starlet from the Wolfsburg youth ranks, who was playing Champions League football against the likes of Paris Saint Germain at just 17. And he notably collected a winners medal at the European U19 Championship.

Photo: Getty Images

Brandt plays on the left similarly to Anderson and employs a similar style, using his powerful running and quick feet to trouble defences. Now boasting 32 goals and 34 assists in 172 appearances for Leverkusen, he has also chalked up 15 international caps – three of which came in the FIFA Confederations Cup triumph, and he looks to be constantly improving.

His impact was almost instant for Germany against Mexico yesterday as his volley rifled past Guillermo Ochoa agonisingly wide just minutes after coming off the bench, and teams the world over will be monitoring the youngster throughout the rest of the competition.

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