It is no secret that West Ham have been in the market for a striker this window. Rumours have included everything from links with about every striker in Europe outside of the absolute elite, to bids for the likes of Carlos Bacca and Carlos Tevez.
Slaven Bilic’s hunt for a goal-scorer has so far been a frustrating one, and while Argentine striker Jonathan Calleri has claimed he’s moving to the Hammers on a season-long loan, the club are rumoured to be in for another front man to bolster their attacking options.
The answer to Bilic’s woes could come from an unexpected place. The recent problems in Turkey have left foreign players in the Süper Lig looking for a way out, and rumour has it Mario Gomez is one of those players.
The 31 year old has been at Besiktas on loan from Fiorentina, a move that included an option to buy. Gomez posted on his social media that he wouldn’t be making his stay a permanent one, leaving him in a tricky situation. While still contracted to Fiorentina, he will almost certainly find himself out of the first team, and the Italian club may want to recoup some of his initial transfer fee while they can.
Gomez is a seasoned veteran of European football. While he has fallen off the radar in recent years, the striker was one of the most devastating strikers in Bundesliga history. He spent his youth at Stuttgart, netting an impressive 63 goals in 121 games for the first team from the age 18.
His fantastic return earned him a move to German giants Bayern Munich in 2009 for between 30-35 million euros, depending on the source. While the move broke the record Bundesliga transfer fee, Gomez proved more than worth it, netting 75 times in just 115 appearances, leading his new club to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League trophy.
His move to Fiorentina in 2013 was less successful, but the German poacher returned to his old ways in Turkey last season, scoring 26 times in 33 appearances.
At times last term, West Ham desperately needed a clinical striker. The London side have an incredible midfield. Dimitri Payet set the Premier League alight last season with his vision and free kick prowess, and with the creativity of Mark Noble and Manuel Lanzini also apparent, there is a need to put an end to the many chances that went unfinished due to that lack of a final touch in the box.
That final touch is exactly what Mario Gomez can provide. While he can strike the ball well from distance, Gomez is often defined by his positioning and movement within 18 yards of the goal. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described him as “a great finisher who is often in the right place to finish off moves”, while Germany coach Joachim Löw described him as a “true number nine.”
Concerns may be rife with signing a 31-year-old striker, but Gomez’s style of play defies the effects of age in a lot of ways. As stated, he relies on his positioning in the box for the majority of his play, and at 31, he is more than capable of holding his own physically when in amongst defenders. As for his clinical eye for goal, that definitely doesn’t fade with age.
At an estimated £7 million, buying Mario Gomez could be a stroke of genius for West Ham. A truly deadly striker to link up with the creative talents in the Hammers midfield would provide a real threat that could see the East London team push for European football yet again this season.
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