West Ham United are taking some remarkably positive steps in this transfer window.
The signing of Pablo Fornals was confirmed before the European Under-21 Championships kicked off and one feels that they have got themselves a gem.
A £24m signing from Villarreal, Football FanCast understands that Manuel Pellegrini specifically requested the purchase of the attacking midfielder and this speaks to what appears to be his strategy for the season: to be the great entertainers.
Yet the deal may not have been done if it wasn’t for Mario Husillos. The Director of Football, a largely unseen, misunderstood role, the Argentine joined the club in June of 2018.
Since then West Ham have signed the following first-team players: Jack Wilshere, Fabian Balbuena, Lucas Perez, Carlos Sanchez, Lukasz Fabianski, Andriy Yarmolenko, Issa Diop, Felipe Anderson, Samir Nasri, Roberto, David Martin and Fornals.
Of 12 acquisitions, only Perez and Nasri can be deemed failures.
Wilshere is an immensely talented midfield player but he has struggled with injury, as has Yarmolenko, Balbuena and Diop are the rocks of Pellegrini’s defence, Sanchez is useful for depth, Fabianski won Hammer of the Year, while Anderson emerged as the club’s best attacking player in 2018/19.
It adds up to the possibility of West Ham lining up with Fornals, Manuel Lanzini and Anderson behind either Marko Arnautovic or Gomez.
Arguably there is no better front four outside of the top-six.
Indeed, Fornals’ statistics should whet the appetite of fans: He averaged 1.7 shots per game in La Liga, per WhoScored, as well as 1.3 key passes and 1.1 dribbles. At the Euros, he has averaged 3.1 shots per game, 2.3 key passes and has scored twice.
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Now, the potential front four are not particularly good at defending.
But that may not matter. It appears that Pellegrini is attempting to build a team designed to outscore the opposition, to attack them and to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
It is a refreshing approach; plenty of teams outside the top-six are content merely to sit back and dare the top sides to have the ball, retaining hope that they can exploit them on the counter-attack.
But the Irons, a club that has always prized flair over organisation, 4-3 defeats over 1-0 losses, are set to shake that up next season.
There is vulnerability at the top, too, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all in a state of flux.
After Husillos’ inspired recruitment, the Irons could gatecrash the party, and win a few neutral admirers along the way.