Leicester have been the shock success story of this season, but people are beginning to acknowledge the wonders being worked by Slaven Bilic at West Ham. The Hammers have out-performed Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea and they are now in a strong position to mount a Champions League qualification challenge over the remainder of the season.
The impending move to the Olympic Stadium has assisted the two Davids in growing the club at an alarming (well, for their rivals) rate and the decision to gamble on Bilic after the ‘Big Sam’ era has paid dividends. A club of West Ham’s size should be competing in the top half, but the relative improvement seen in this season has shocked the English footballing hierarchy. Built on a strong defence and industrious midfield, the Hammers have taken advantage of having a sublime French creative force in Dimitri Payet puling the strings.
West Ham are, however, always at threat of having their best players stolen from under their noses, so we bring you FIVE of their stars who could be taken away this summer…
Cresswell should be going to the Euros with England this summer and, after a splendid first season the left-back has proven himself to be one of the best full-backs in the league once again.
Offensively he is intelligent and is one of the best crossers of the ball in the country, whilst he offers a level of defensive solidity that many modern full-backs simply don’t.
His two interceptions per Premier League game illustrate his talent for reading the game and his balanced all round performances will surely attract the biggest clubs.
Whilst Manchester City are likely to be in the market for a left-back upgrade, both Chelsea and Arsenal could also be looking to strengthen that position.
Ogbonna, like Payet, only arrived at West Ham this season.
The Italian centre-back couldn’t break into the Juventus side on a regular basis, but has been a rock at the heart of the Hammers’ defence, whoever he’s been partnered with.
Quality defenders are rare at the moment and, with so many big clubs on the look out for a reliable centre-half, Ogbonna is likely to be a favourite of many a director.
Since his arrival at West Ham, Kouyate has played in a number of positions.
The towering midfielder has been used as a centre-half of late and even played off the striker when Bilic wanted a little more physicality in his forward line.
Kouyate is completing over two tackles per match and is evidently one of the most versatile players in the league at the moment.
His power has been crucial for West Ham and other sides will be eyeing up the ideal ‘plan B’.
Tomkins is a fans’ favourite at West Ham and it would be a controversial move to sell the English defender.
However, Bilic might look to improve the quality of the team’s defensive depth and Tomkins would be one player who could help the club make money.
Few players have made as big an impact on a league as Payet has since his arrival last summer.
From his sublime free kicks to mazy dribbles, Payet is adored at the Boleyn Ground faithful and is a strong contender for a position in team of the season. His eight goals and seven assists in the league put him up with the most productive players this campaign and there is no doubt that the biggest clubs will be sniffing around this French maestro come the summer.
Turning 29 later this month, Payet’s age may put off potential buyers, as might his recently signed contract.