Over the years, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has proved himself to be one of the transfer market’s shrewdest operators.
From signing Jay-Jay Okotcha and Hideotoshi Nakata for his hardworking Bolton Wanderers outfit, to completely transforming the nature and philosophy of the current Hammers squad on a summer budget of just £28million, Big Sam is amongst the Premier League’s most prolific when it comes to making value-for-money signings.
And a predominant source of those excellent deals has been the bosman market – something the Irons boss will undoubtedly be mulling over once again as we approach the summer window.
And just in case he’s uncharacteristically short on a few ideas, we’ve listed the FIVE contract rebels the Hammers should be targeting.
Yet to pen extended terms with Manchester City, the impeccably consistent James Milner is shaping up to be one of the best bargains of the summer window.
What’s not to like about this guy? He’s two-footed, versatile, creative yet hardworking, renowned for his professionalism, home-grown and now boasts 408 games’ worth of experience in the Premier League – alongside an impressive 53 caps for England.
He’s a player that bridges the gap between the attritional mantra Sam Allardyce rebuilt West Ham’s top flight status on and the more adventurous, creative and exciting football that’s seen them challenge for a Europa League spot this season.
Whether the Irons qualify or not will likely influence the 29 year-old’s interest in a move to Upton Park however, having featured in the Champions League for the last five seasons. Likewise, the Hammers hardly constitute his only potential suitors this summer, with Liverpool, Arsenal and AC Milan all linked by The Metro.
From the perspective of any potential summer suitor, Marseille contract rebel Andre Ayew strikes the perfect balance between age, quality and availability.
Indeed, the 25 year-old has proved himself to be one of Ligue 1’s most potent wide men over the last five years, amassing a prominent 54 goals in 182 appearances for the Stade Velodrome side, including a return of nine strikes in 28 European outings.
The Ghana star, who finished up as AFCON 2015’s joint-top scorer with three goals and it’s joint-second leading creator with two assists, is best famed for his versatility, powerful build and, bizarrely for a 5 foot 9 winger-forward, his heading ability, as evident in the above video.
Ayew admitted his interest in moving to Upton Park during the January window but it’s hardly the only Premier League destination on his radar. Liverpool, Newcastle and Everton have all been recently linked with the L’OM attacker, in addition to former Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.
Jon Flanagan produced some fantastic performances at the end of last season as Liverpool honed in on the Premier League title, so I find it incredibly surprising that the Anfield outfit are yet to extend his contract past the summer.
The 22 year-old netted vital goals and recorded impressive defensive statistics for the Reds, specifically, 1.7 interceptions, 2.6 tackles and 1.2 successful aerial duels per match, despite more commonly filling in at the less familiar role of left-back – eventually earning him an England debut in a pre-World Cup friendly last summer.
He’s spent the current campaign sidelined with injury, which perhaps makes Flanagan a risky investment for potential summer suitors. Based on his form last season however, in my opinion, he’s well worth the punt for West Ham – especially if loan star Carl Jenkinson doesn’t move to Upton Park permanently this summer.
With West Ham facing the daunting prospect of losing a contract rebel of their own this summer, star centre-back Winston Reid, it’s time to consider some viable replacements for the New Zealand skipper.
In terms of free transfers, both Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar and former Blackburn Rovers man Christopher Samba remain realistic possibilities, but in my opinion FC Basel prodigy Fabian Schar constitutes a far superior option – providing the Hammers can beat some of the Swiss international’s more coveted suitors to his signature.
Indeed, the 23 year-old recorded the best statistics of any centre-back involved in the Champions League last term, averaging a near incredible 3.3 tackles, 4 interceptions and 6.7 clearances per match, and continued to impress in the tournament this season with a Man of the Match performance against Liverpool.
That, combined with his front-footed, progressive style, reminiscent of Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen, has generated plenty of interest throughout the continent however. Arsenal, Tottenham, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund have all been linked with the Swiss centre-back this season.
Unquestionably one of the brightest home-grown prospects the Premier League currently has to offer, the majority of top half clubs will be battling it out for Danny Ings’ signature this summer.
The Burnley prodigy endured a slow start to his first top flight campaign, but now boasts an impressive nine goals and four assists in his last 17 Premiership appearances – following the 21 strikes that fuelled the Turf Moor outfit’s Championship promotion bid last season.
In addition to the 22 year-old’s quality in front of goal, it’s his intelligence and mobility that particularly stand out. Ings is capable of changing the angle of play in an instant, and has proved himself equally adept at bringing others into the game, creating on average 1.2 chances per match this term.
Resultantly however, Manchester City and Liverpool are both expected to offer him contracts at the end of the season, whilst he’s already jetted to Spain to hold talks with David Moyes’ Real Sociedad.