West Ham are being linked with just about every striker across the world that can kick a ball and has a pulse.
The list that the Hammers have reportedly put together is a little ridiculous and makes them appear desperate. Yet in some ways, they are.
The team from the East End of London announced themselves in fine style in their first season under Slaven Bilic. From the start of last campaign, they threw the form guide out of the window and then trampled all over it throughout. It was just like West Ham to beat Arsenal away and then lose to Leicester and Bournemouth at home – it’s just what they do.
Yet, it became glaringly obvious during the season that the forward line was misfiring. Andy Carroll flitted in and out with injury, as did Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia. Mauro Zarate thought the grass was greener in Italy and Bilic brought in the Nigerian bruiser, Emmanuel Emenike, but nothing seemed to gel.
So, it came as no surprise that the two David’s, announced with some conviction that they were going for the best this summer, and that they would be spending a vast fortune, unheard of at West Ham, on a competent 20-goals-a-season striker.
Then a list appeared of roughly twenty individuals. The theory being that if the list is long enough, you will undoubtedly end up with someone eventually, even though they might be number eighteen on the list and not numbers one, two or three.
If you believe the media, then West Ham are close to tying up two or three deals, one of which is a striker. If you believe the club, then nothing like that is remotely true.
High profile offers have been made and rebuffed. Maybe West Ham are just a season or two away from being the kind of club that players consider a definite possibility. However, at least West Ham are in London (important to some overseas players), have a brand new stadium (just in case you haven’t heard), are in the Premier League, have huge ambitions and, lastly, are in Europe and mean it this time. All good reasons for an aspiring player to come to Stratford.
But, the club appear to be struggling to get the names they want, and with the distraction of the European Championship lingering, nothing very much will happen anywhere.
However, it could if West Ham would take notice of one striker that is definitely under the radar, but very capable and adored by his current club.
Cedric Bakambu is a name relatively unknown in the UK. In La Liga, though, everyone knows about the DR Congo international, and here are FIVE good reasons why West Ham would do well to take notice…
12 La Liga goals and 20 in all competitions – a real achievement in a very tough league by most standards. The Villarreal striker has been phenomenal in his first season after the Yellow Submarine splashed out €7m for him last summer. The club aren’t known for spending that kind of money, but they have been repaid after finishing fourth in the domestic league. Bakambu made his professional debut for Sochaux in 2010, and played 107 games for them over five seasons, scoring 21 goals. He then moved to Bursaspor for €1.8m, finishing as top scorer (13 in 27 league games) before signing for Villarreal a year later.
Transfermarkt value the player at £9m, which should make West Ham sit up. When the likes of Alexandre Lacazette are undecided about a move and possess a valuation that seems to increase week by week, this striker is worth a try.
West Ham’s policy on age seems to be under 30, and so at 25-years-old, Bakambu not only scores goals and has European experience, but is within the right age group. Seriously, what isn’t to like?
As above, the striker has played in three different European leagues and has played for the French Under-18s, 19s and 20s before deciding on a full international career with the Congo. six caps and one goal proves he can score at all levels. He also has valuable Europa League experience in the past year and with the Hammers on the trail of European glory, that could be particularly useful.
Bakambu clearly has the finishing touch, but it’s the variety of ways he gets into good positions to use it that impresses most. The DR Congo ace has blistering pace and his frighteningly quick when closing down of goalkeepers – this has led to many an error by them and consequently goals for him. Intelligence is certainly not lacking in Bakambu’s game, with his movement varying between playing off the shoulder and dropping back into pockets of space in order to set himself up for poacher-style follow-up shots.