Player Zone: Why Islam Slimani transfer makes more sense for Newcastle

It’s clear what West Ham need, and it’s clear what David Moyes wants.

A new midfielder to boost numbers in a part of the pitch where the Hammers have been lacking is clearly a deadline day desire, but so is a new striker – something which has almost been the holy grail of West Ham transfers over the years, one who can actually score goals.

On deadline day, Moyes’ side appeared to be battling it out with another struggling Premier League side in need of a striker: Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle.

Both, according to The Sun were in for Leicester’s Islam Slimani.

And now it appears as though Newcastle have won the race – it’s a necessary signing for the Magpies, and clearly the Hammers would like a striker, but did West Ham really lose out here? And did Newcastle get what they needed?

The Algerian striker was signed by then-champions Leicester from Sporting Club in Portugal and although he started reasonably brightly under Claudio Ranieri, Slimani could only bag eight goals in all competitions.

That doesn’t sound like a lot in his 29 appearances that year, especially in a side who were the champions of England and were a dodgy penalty call away from having the chance to take part in a Champions League semi-final, but the truth is that Leicester’s season was thrown into disarray early doors – it would have been hard for any new signing to really shine that year.

This season, however, he perhaps hasn’t done a whole lot better, but under new management he’s had less game time. It’s clear that Jamie Vardy needs a workhorse beside him, someone like Shinji Okazaki, whereas Slimani is a target man who’s already shown he can be dangerous in the air in the Premier League.

That would have suited both the Magpies and the Hammers.

Newcastle especially. Whilst it’s clear that, in theory, a player like Aleksandar Mitrovic is exactly what Rafael Benitez needs to win football matches, it’s also quite obvious that logic plays little role when a player like the Serbian is governed so much by temper and emotion. In short, he’s a liability the manager feels he can’t afford.

For West Ham, they too need a striker, and it’s ironic that the player they need to replace is the former Newcastle player Andy Carroll. For all the former England man’s incredible qualities, staying injury-free simply isn’t one of them. And with the Hammers suffering yet another massive injury crisis, it’s clear that they need someone who can slot into the team as soon as possible.

That, though, won’t be Slimani. There have been reports today suggesting that the Algerian attacker has been struck down with a thigh injury suffered in training, which will keep him out for a few weeks. That won’t necessarily be a problem for Newcastle, who might love to get him in straight away, but might also be happier to wait than West Ham will be, given their situation.

But that means it’s back to the drawing board for West Ham, who cannot rely on the fitness of Andy Carroll, have already let Diafra Sakho leave the club, and don’t seem to want to rely on Javier Hernandez.

For Newcastle, this is a necessary signing of a striker they can build an attack around. He is strong, good in the air and has an eye for goal. But for West Ham, you can see why they turned this one down: despite really needing a new striker, they surely couldn’t make their own injury list even longer during a crisis by adding a new player who is actually injured, too.

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