Written by Rhys Paul
The hunt for a top-class striker is one that has been underway since the end of last season for West Ham. When it was revealed that the two David’s were prepared to spend up to £30 million, fans naturally began to dream big with expectations already high following a great season and the much-hyped move to the new stadium only months away. Between that reveal in May and now, the club have seen moves for Alexandre Lacazette, Michy Batshuayi and Carlos Tevez amount to nothing (all for different reasons). AC Milan’s Carlos Bacca has been the latest player linked to East London and his proposed £26 million move and £65k-a-week wages represent the furthest in which negotiations for a top striker have come so far. However, the player appears to be holding out for a better offer – one that appears to hinge on Champions League football – and whilst it would still be a great signing if he does ultimately sign for Slaven Bilic’s team, the club simply cannot wait around in the hopes Bacca will end up putting pen to paper. With the season beginning in just over a week for West Ham, fans are naturally growing concerned – something since exacerbated by Diafra Sakho’s transfer request – that they will begin their campaign without their top priority signing. The club therefore, need to make a statement of intent (both for the sake of the fans and to send a message to Bacca) by delving back into the transfer market and continuing their search for a striker, three of which I have identified below:
Mauro Icardi – Inter Milan
The Inter Milan captain has been linked primarily with Arsenal, but recent reports suggest West Ham are contemplating making a move for the player. It would take £41.8 million to persuade Inter to sell their star player, but at 23 years old and with 47 goals in 88 league appearances, it seems like it would be a good investment for the club to make at this stage. West Ham lack a poacher and Icardi’s record in the 18-yard box speaks for itself, he is a lethal finisher – one the likes West Ham have rarely had in their squad. Last season he continued to improve and also began to show how effective he can be when playing off his team-mates. If Bilic does ever opt to play two upfront, a Carroll-Icardi partnership has the potential to be prolific. The club have made it clear they want a proven goalscorer rather than one for the future, but Icardi has the potential to be both.
Mario Mandzukic – Juventus
Since 2012, Mandzukic has been regarded as one of the top strikers in the world. He’s never quite been able to be the 20+ goalscorer many expected, but his record playing at the highest level is still impressive nonetheless. If Juventus are prepared to sell, West Ham are in an advantageous position to land the 6ft 3in striker given the relationship he shares with Bilic. As Croatian manager, Bilic handed Mandzukic his international debut in 2007 and played a huge role in helping him seal a move to Bayern Munich after he was Euro 2012’s joint top-scorer despite Croatia’s group-stage exit. His aerial prowess and physical strength might put West Ham off from making a move for the player on the sole basis they already possess a player with similar attributes in the form of Andy Carroll and for this reason they might deem his transfer fee and inevitably high wage demands an unnecessary expense. Even so, Bilic’s influence might help the club negotiate a favourable deal for the Juventus man and the signing of Mandzukic would mean West Ham could boast about having one of the most accomplished, dangerous strikers in the Premier League.
Wissam Ben Yedder – Toulouse
63 goals in 153 appearances for Toulouse has seen the 25 year old’s stock rise. 17 goals last season was also the same number Batshuayi scored for Marseille and he could be available for only a fraction of the £33 million Batshuayi cost Chelsea. More specifically, that fraction is rumoured to be as little as £8.3 million with only a year remaining on his contract, but this will naturally attract a lot of competition for his signature. He would be a fantastic signing and one that must be called a bargain if he does sign for anything less than £10 million. However, it would be slightly underwhelming if he does turn out to be the ‘big’ signing and the club will have to bring in another striker alongside him to prevent disappointing the fans. In an ideal world, Ben Yedder would be a direct replacement for Sakho and the money the latter might bring in might actually see the club recoup the transfer fee for the French striker with Bilic’s budget not effected by the deal.
West Ham fans, what striker would you like to see arrive at the club? Let us know in the comments below!