The Slaven Bilic era at West Ham United has got off to an absolute flyer, with six wins and 21 points from the Croatian gaffer’s first twelve Premier League fixtures in charge of the East London outfit.
That currently leaves the Hammers in sixth place and their abrupt charge for European football couldn’t have come at a better time, with the much-anticipated move to the Olympic Stadium now just a matter of months away.
It would be the perfect start to a new beginning for the Irons, but there’s the small matter of 26 more games to deal with first. Hammers fans will be well aware that things can change very quickly in the Premier League, having watched their side plummet from fourth to twelfth place during the second half of last season.
But the January transfer window is now less than two months away, giving Bilic the opportunity to bolster his squad for the campaign’s final run in. With that in mind, here are FOUR midseason signings that would boost West Ham’s bid for European qualification.
Already linked with a West Ham move in January, Keisuke Honda would be an impressive addition to Slaven Bilic’s squad.
The Japan international is famed for his wizardry from dead ball situations; a specialist skill mostly responsible for his 76 club goals and 32 strikes at international level; but he’s a strong contributor to open play as well, with fantastic technique and an unquenchable work-rate.
The 29-year-old certainly seems to be available, having not started a Serie A fixture since criticising AC Milan’s culture of blaming the players for the club’s miraculous decline, and with his contract set to expire at the end of next season, the mooted £5million valuation certainly seems to be within the right ballpark.
Rivaled interest from Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, however, could prove problematic for the Hammers.
What a signing this would be. Loic Remy’s never really been given the chance to show his best at Chelsea, making just five Premier League starts since joining the Stamford Bridge ranks in summer 2014, but the France forward more than proved his top flight scoring credentials during prior campaigns with QPR and Newcastle.
Indeed, the 28-year-old bagged 20 goals in 42 Premier League appearances for both clubs combined, boasting the rather unique blend of defence-splitting pace and one-touch finishes – even when striking from incredible distance – and would almost certainly be reaching double figures every season if given a starring role in a decent side.
Rumour has it Jose Mourinho is preparing a cut-throat clear out in January and Remy could well be one of the players given his marching orders, having never really exceed peripheral status within the Blues’ squad.
There’s not too much talk about a January move at the moment, but a bid around the £10million mark, matching Chelsea’s original investment, would certainly tempt the west Londoners into selling.
Another strike option well worth the consideration of pretty much every Premier League club outside of the top four, surely someone will take advantage of Charlie Austin’s availability in the coming transfer window.
The 26-year-old was nothing short of phenomenal last season, claiming fourth spot in the Premier League’s scoring charts with 18 goals despite representing a QPR side who eventually finished at the bottom of the table.
Although injuries have marred his game-time somewhat in recent weeks, Austin’s strike-rate is still holding strong in the Championship – seven in twelve outings – and the feistiness ingrained in the 6 foot 2 striker from his miraculous rise through the Football League would certainly suit Slaven Bilic’s industrious philosophy.
With his Loftus Road contract set to expire at the end of the season, Mirror Football claim QPR could sell for just £8million in January. However, chairman David Sullivan will need some convincing after questioning Austin’s fitness during the summer.
Nothing can boost West Ham’s European football bid more than a player boasting plenty of experience in continential competitions, and that’s exactly what Sofiane Feghouli offers.
Indeed, the speedy winger has made 44 appearances in the Europa League and Champions League for Valencia, as well as representing Algeria at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The 25 year-old’s output can be a little underwhelming – six goals and six assists in 33 La Liga appearances last season – but he’s always busy in the final third and through his combination of trickery, pace and power has a knack of making things happen for his team-mates.
With the African wide man’s Mestalla contract set to expire at the end of the season, the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United and Inter Milan have all ran the rule over Feghouli in recent months.
West Ham still have the chance of pulling off an almighty coup, however, provided they’re willing to meet the 35-cap international’s reported demands of a €2million salary.