Michail Antonio, Marko Arnautovic and Andre Ayew all have something in common and it’s not just that they’re all West Ham players. This season, all three have played in forward roles, despite being mainly thought of as wingers or wide attackers. In Ayew’s case, something of a creative number 10 at times.
Meanwhile, the three out-and-out strikers at the club have all been linked with moves away from the club this January. Andy Carroll has been linked with a move to Chelsea, Javier Hernandez with Besiktas and even Manchester United, and Diafra Sakho to other struggling Premier League sides who could be doing with a striker. That clearly tells you something, though it’s unclear exactly what.
Obviously, if all of the rumours are true, it shows that David Moyes is happy to let each of them go – though perhaps not all three in the same window – but given we’re talking about strikers of differing types, it’s hard to know exactly what that means.
Selling Carroll might hint at a desire to play a faster game in attack. Or it could be a chance to offloading an injury-prone striker and getting money in return. Selling Hernandez would seem to suggest that Moyes wants a striker with a bit more strength or at least the ability to get involved in build-up play. But if either of those reasons are the case, then why sell Carroll, who brings the strength, or indeed Sakho, who provides at least some ability on the ball?
Then again, it could just be that none of them can be relied on to bang in enough goals when they’re first-choice strikers. All are potentially better as options on the bench, or at least as less reliable luxuries.
If that’s the case, what it means is – yes we’re back to this again – West Ham desperately need a striker. It’s just hard to speculate on which one the Hammers should go for considering there are plenty of reasons why Moyes might not like the options currently at his disposal.
But one option to consider – and who has been linked to the club in the past – is Sevilla striker Wissam Ben Yedder. A player who was sought-after a number of years ago when he broke through with Toulouse in Ligue 1.
Last season, after joining Sevilla, the Frenchman finished the season as top scorer with 18 goals and this year, he’s top scorer again, already with 14 to his name in all competitions. Indeed, he’s a long way ahead of his teammates – the next highest scorer is his strike partner Luis Muriel with just four.
And yet, most of those goals have come in the Champions League where the shackles have been off. In the league, it’s a different story. Ben Yedder has only scored four league goals so far, with eight coming in the Champions League.
That shouldn’t put West Ham fans off the idea, though. Ben Yedder is still the club’s top scorer in the league.
But so bad has it been for Sevilla that they themselves are looking for summer reinforcements under new manager Vincenzo Montella. Recently, they’ve been linked with some big Premier League names like Michy Batshuayi and Daniel Sturridge, as they seek to kick start their season.
The mere fact the Spanish club are looking for a new signing is one thing, but the fact they’re looking for such big names speaks even more loudly. If you’re a new manager coming into a club and you already start to target a big-name striker as the first thing you do, you certainly don’t give the vibes of a man who will stand in the way of your current attacker if he wants to leave.
But then we go back to the original question – why would David Moyes want him? After all, the Sevilla striker is even smaller than Javier Hernandez – five centimetres smaller, to be precise.
At first glance, it might look as though height and strength why the Mexican is allegedly surplus to requirements, but the talk of Carroll potentially being allowed to leave hints that size doesn’t matter to Moyes, or at least not in this case.
Indeed, it might be the fact Chicharito is basically a fox in the box. He doesn’t provide much more than a threat from six yards. And when you’re in the midst of a relegation battle, you need a striker who can score you goals, sure, but also one who can provide an outlet on the counter attack. That is, you need pace or strength.
Pace is certainly something that Ben Yedder has, and he’s definitely a more skillful player outside of the box than anything the Hammers currently have. Crucially, he’s more comfortable in wider areas, too, with the ability to stand defenders up and beat them.
It’s no secret that West Ham want a striker given the paper talk. The enigma is whether they need a big one or a small one, a pacey one or a strong one, and nothing in the rumours really helps with that. But whatever the profile of the man Moyes wants, he could do a lot worse than Wissam Ben Yedder who may well be available this month.