So close, yet so far for West Ham this year. Slaven Bilic’s Irons didn’t quite make the top four grade in 2015/16. Injury troubles and patchy form at times have seen them fall just short of qualification for Europe’s elite competition this season. With the threat of relegation at the start of the season being in the forefront of most fans’ minds, this campaign has been a substantial over-achievement, it must be remembered.
Luckily for Hammers, this is unlikely to be a flash in the pan. David Sullivan and David Gold are as ambitious as Bilic, so, coupled with their move to the Olympic Stadium, the Irons could be set for big things next season.
A top four finish in 2016/17 shouldn’t be seen as beyond the realms of possibility and, particularly with the average age of the squad, the fans should be dreaming. The quality is already there, but it will be depth that is desperately important next season.
Could these FIVE take West Ham to the next level?
Although Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss this summer’s EUROs with injury, the Arsenal man is still quite likely to make a move on.
Stagnating slightly at the Emirates, a move would be great for the former Saint and his versatility would be attractive to any manager. Able to offer Bilic the direct running in wide areas that he has missed at times, while his strong upper-body and pace suits the profile of Croatian’s squad perfectly, he would be an excellent addition.
PSG might be reluctant to part with their gifted 23-year-old right-back this summer. West Ham’s best hope would be that Aurier’s controversial rant earlier this calendar year will have burned enough bridges for him to be transfer listed.
Despite the signing of Sam Byram, the Irons are still slightly weak at right-back and Aurier would bring the added bonus of being able to cover across the defence.
As comfortable when overlapping as he is when in a defensive duel with the opposition winger, Aurier has it all and his signing would allow Michail Antonio to return to his natural position on the wing.
Jonas’ 31 goals in 32 Liga Sagres starts this season makes him one of the most prolific strikers in European football.
The Benfica man has blossomed late in his career – he is now 32 – but a season or two of his quality at West Ham could make a huge difference. A markedly different type of forward from Andy Carroll, Jonas would give Bilic options in the final third.
Bilic is currently short of reliable options at number 9 and Jonas’ experience would be more than welcome.
Both Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate are better when given the freedom to break forward. Grzegorz Krychowiak is a big name across European football now and his experience in the Europa League would be extremely beneficial for West Ham.
Particularly in the tougher games, Krychowiak would be the ideal anchor for the Hammers’ midfield. His towering stature would add to an already powerful West Ham squad, too.
Chelsea’s Brazil international has been so inconsistent since arriving at the club that many Blues are beginning to question whether he should remain at the club.
At his best, Oscar is a wonderful tenacious, pressing player, with an eye for goal and a fearless approach to the tackle. But, for whatever reason, Oscar all too often has looked disinterested when in a Chelsea shirt.
Bilic is the sort of manager who could fire him up and that extra bit of quality in West Ham’s midfield would be invaluable. Goals from midfield are crucial for West Ham and Oscar would be certain to provide that.