It has been a long and laborious summer for West Ham United fans as they followed the well-documented developments of their search for a new striker. First of all, they were teased with names such as Michy Batshuayi and Alexandre Lacazette with big money being offered for both of them – before they promptly decided they were too good for the club.
Then, there was the Carlos Bacca saga, still yet to reach its conclusion but we can now safely assume he won’t be travelling to East London anytime soon. Despite the big wages and transfer fee being put on the table, Bacca has stalled more times than a first-time driver as he deliberates whether the Olympic Stadium and European football is a big enough prospect for his 30-year-old self.
The final chapter of this never ending saga seems to be upon us as Swansea attacker Andre Ayew now appears to be in line to join in the imminent future. With higher profile players being mentioned originally, some Hammers fans may be a tad disappointed with this particular outcome. Although Ayew is indeed a great option to have in the squad, he can hardly be considered a world class name.
A fairly impressive debut campaign with Swansea has meant that Slaven Bilic is willing to splash out £20 million on the Ghanian, having been signed on a free transfer the previous season from Marseille.
It is first of all worth pointing out that Ayew is not an out-and-out striker. He was deployed there by Swansea towards the end of the season to fill in for the struggling Bafetimbi Gomis but prefers to play on the wing or as an attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1; the formation most preferred by Bilic.
Although Ayew could potentially play behind the striker or on the right or left of midfield, the Hammers’ summer signings have bolstered those options significantly already. Two out of Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Gokhan Tore and Sofiane Feghouli would have to start on the bench if Ayew played in an attacking midfield role, which would be completely crazy – although not as crazy as slotting Michail Antonio in at right-back, so it could potentially happen.
Ayew is essentially an upgrade on Andy Carroll – just as dangerous in the air (despite being 5 ft 9 in) but also with the ability to pull off a stunning pass or use a cheeky piece of skill to outdo the nearest defender. In that sense, he has a closer style of play to Dimitri Payet but has the strength in order to flourish as a striker. Payet and Ayew will be familiar with each other’s style of play haven risen through the ranks with Marseille together and will surely be a prominent goal and assist duo (if indeed Ayew signs and Payet, touch wood, doesn’t have a change of heart and leaves).
As a team player, Ayew also appears to be more selfless than Carroll, making on average 31 passes a game compared to Carroll’s 16 – although this is probably due to him spending more time in the midfield areas.
The only worry that West Ham fans may have about Ayew is a certain lack of consistency. Having been voted as Premier League player of the month in August, the 26-year-old had something of a cool streak, right up until the end of the season, where he found his shooting boots and netted four times in three games.
One of the main reasons that the Hammers have been unable to secure a top six position in the last few years, despite having great depth, is their lack of leading goalscorer. Ayew will need to be that man should West Ham want to excel in the league and in Europe, assuming another striker isn’t signed, and will, therefore, need to work on converting more chances. With plenty of great passers set to be stationed behind him, there will be no shortage of ammunition to net double figures for the season.
£20 million may seem like a risky move for Bilic, but if the rumours of Diafra Sakho’s £16 million move to West Brom are to be believed, then this particular transfer will be seen as a great piece of business and Ayew would be a key figure for the upcoming season. It’s also been rumoured that Ayew will not be this summer’s ‘marquee signing’ like Dimitri Payet was last year – meaning that Hammers fans will have another anxious wait to see will be THE big name donning the claret and blue strip next season. Brace yourselves.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Dan Westwell.