An injury crisis in East London over recent months has put somewhat of a dampener on the electric form West Ham had shown during the opening stages of the season.
New boss Slaven Bilic had sculpted a wonderfully exciting side containing the likes of Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini, claiming famous wins at the homes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.
However, a swathe of injuries to the aforementioned players, as well as Andy Carroll, Winston Reid, Victor Moses and Diafra Sakho have slightly the breaks on the rampant Hammers. The recent 0-0 stalemate with Swansea was their third successive bore draw.
While still in contention for a place in the top six, such talk has naturally stalled for now in the wake of such a series of blows. London rivals Crystal Palace are currently parked in the position, though it’s extremely difficult to rule the Irons out once their star performers return to first-team action.
Perhaps some intervention in the January market can help supplement the squad going forward, to help provide some strength and depth to the ranks in an effort to land European football.
With that in mind, here are FIVE January transfers to boost West Ham’s top six hopes…
Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas is reportedly looking to leave Everton this winter in an effort to secure first-team football ahead of Euro 2016. The former Olympiakos man has been one of the star performers on Merseyside over recent seasons, but has lost his place in Roberto Martinez’s young side of late.
Though Victor Moses has been excellent, the Nigerian winger is not a long term option. He signed a four-year deal with Chelsea before moving across London on a temporary basis earlier this summer.
Perhaps moving for Mirallas would be a wise idea. He’s an incisive wide forward, able to get chalk on his boots or cut inside and support the likes of Sakho or Carroll. The 28-year old has a wealth of experience in the top flight and remains a class performer.
He would help round out the squad moving forward while adding a more natural wide option than Payet or Lanzini, as well as cover in a more central attacking position.
Emmanuel Adebayor has been linked with a move to Upton Park for what seems to be forever, though reports emerged recently that a deal is once again under discussion.
Premier League fans are well aware of the obvious qualities the 31-year old brings to any side, as well as the obvious negatives. However, with both Carroll and Sakho often the subject of injuries, as well as Enner Valencia’s bad luck on that front, the striking burden has fallen to Nikica Jelavic in recent times.
While the Croat forward works tirelessly, it’s clear he is not up to the required standard. A six-month deal for the former Spurs man may be a good idea, as Carroll continues to frustrate on the injury front.
Dimitri Payet has been truly marvellous in claret and blue this term and it’s been fantastic to watch how he schemes with Manuel Lanzini and the like. So, why stop there? AC Milan midfielder is the latest big name to be linked with a move to East London.
The 29-year old Japanese attacking midfielder is a silky assist machine, able to be deployed either behind the striker or a wide option. Payet’s energy in winning the ball back and dropping deeper would afford Bilic the chance to field a plethora of attacking stars in the likes of Honda and Lanzini for maximum creativity, without sacrificing too much in the way of defensive diligence.
More and more in the Premier League we are seeing teams deploy a liquid, free flowing frontline rather than the traditional striker. Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Stoke have all used it to good effect this term and the addition of the AC Milan star would help the Hammers replicate such a tactic.
While the aforementioned Adebayor provides a short-term fix, firming up reported interest in Juventus forward Simone Zaza is certainly the opposite of that. While the apparent £21m asking fee is pricey, the Italian international would be a fantastic signing.
Recent struggles in front of goal have no doubt largely come as a result of the unfortunate injuries, though the striking department has room for improvement. Jelavic isn’t good enough, despite his work-rate, and Andy Carroll has struggled to put a good run of games together in a few seasons now.
Zaza would be another cosmopolitan addition at Upton Park, heading into their move to the Olympic Stadium. Though he’s struggled to break the first team in Turin, the 24-year old has technical skill to be marvelled while also retaining the ability to lead the line.
Genoa’s young midfield star Rolando Mandragora has recently been touted as a potential target heading into the New Year. The 18-year old has impressed on loan at Pescara this term, making 12 appearances as a classy defensive midfielder.
While the Hammers currently have young prodigy Reece Oxford as a hugely exciting prospect in that role, landing the Italian Under-21 star would be a huge statement of intent. Too much pressure can’t be placed on the shoulders of these young stars, but sharing the burden can help both grow at a fine footballing club like West Ham.