No Premier League manager quite enjoys a transfer bargain as much as Sam Allardyce.
The West Ham manager’s eclectic knowledge of the transfer market is renowned, but if you require further evidence of his ability to consistently sign value-for-money, just take a look at the summer window and the Hammers’ improvement since; on a modest budget of £30million, he’s transformed the Irons from habitual mid-tablers into genuine top four contenders.
Thus, with the January window upon us and the shops starting their post-Christmas sales, we’ve come up with FIVE bargains that should be taking the Hammers gaffer’s fancy this month.
With all accompanied by valuations under the £10million mark, Allardyce would be mad to ignore them.
Former England winger Aaron Lennon hasn’t seen too much Premier League action over the past few seasons amid Spurs’ managerial merry-go-round, but his defining strengths remain undoubted; a strong work-ethic, a decade’s worth of Premier League experience and lethal pace going forward.
He would add a new dimension to the Hammers’ attack whilst also maintaining the industrious themes the East London side are now famed for, providing a level of speed and energy, currently unrivalled throughout the West Ham squad, in the attacking midfield hub.
Aged 27, Lennon still has a good three or four years ahead of him and the Lilywhites are almost certain to sell this month – in fact, Sky Sports claim the former Leeds product will be the only player to leave White Hart Lane.
Mirror Football quote a £7million valuation, which should be within The Irons’ financial reach, but also label Everton as rival suitors.
Another bargain winger for the Hammers to consider is summer target Yevhen Konoplyanka, who Sam Allardyce launched an ill-fated £9.5million bid for back in July.
Having won three Ukrainian Footballer of the Year awards and the last two Ukrainian Premier League Footballer of the Year awards, the Dnipro star is considered by many to be one of the biggest talents outside of Europe’s leading top flights.
Furthermore, although West Ham failed to secure his services during the summer, they may have considerably better luck this January with the Ukrainian international, who first drew wide attention after netting a stunner against England at Wembley in 2012, entering the final six months of his contract.
The East Londoners will have to act quickly however; reports in December claimed negotiations over a pre-contract deal with Inter Milan have been ongoing for some time.
If we’re talking the Premier League’s best value-for-money bargain of the January window, it’s hard to look past Aston Villa star Fabian Delph.
It’s been a huge twelve months for the Midlands midfielder, earning the Villain of the Year award at the end of last season and more recently a spot in Roy Hodgson’s England squad, with three caps since his September debut.
Both achievements are a direct result of the 25 year-old’s energetic style of play, boasting a unique blend of industriousness, mobility and guile – epitomised best by the above goal against Chelsea last season.
Villa desperately want to keep hold of the Three Lions hotshot and Paul Lambert has issued a clear hands-off warning in regards to Delph and team-mate Ron Vlaar. But with his contract set to expire at the end of the season and Delph recently refusing improved terms on his current deal, the Midlands outfit will have little choice if approached with a respectable offer.
According to Mirror Football however, Liverpool are already preparing a £7.5million bid.
With Winston Reid’s contract situation still waiting upon resolution, the issue of West Ham’s long-term defensive depth is creeping higher up Sam Allardyce’s agenda.
Plenty of defenders have been linked with an Upton Park move as a result, but one that particularly stands out, in terms of value-for-money, is Lokomotiv Moscow’s Vedran Corluka – available for just £4million this month according to The Daily Mail.
That name will sound familiar for good reason; the 28 year-old has already represented Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the English top flight, totalling 119 Premier League appearances before moving to Russia in summer 2012.
The 80-cap Croatia international boasts the 6 foot 4 stature of a towering centre-half, but also the quality on the ball, the pace and the anticipation to operate at right-back when required.
There appears to be some strong competition for his signature however; the Daily Mail also link Aston Villa and Leicester City.
West Ham are hardly short of firepower this season, with Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho all boasting healthy goal-returns, but the opportunity to sign an in-form Englishman at a discounted rate is just too good to ignore for the East London club.
Of course, I’m referring to Burnley’s Danny Ings; after initially struggling to adapt to the top flight, the 22 year-old is now amid a run of six goals and three assists in his last 13 Premier League appearances and that superfluous form has propelled the Turf Moor outfit up the league table.
Burnley understandably don’t want to sell and manager Sean Dyche has claimed he’ll only be forced to for silly money – as reported by the Daily Mail.
But with the England U21’s contract expiring at the end of the season and Burnley hardly famed for their financial strength, they will have to consider decent offers. The Telegraph claim Spurs are willing to pay around £7million, which West Ham could feasibly match.