If there’s to be another signing at the London Stadium this month, it will need to be a midfielder or a striker. Preferably both.
But there’s bringing in a ‘striker’ and then there’s bringing in a name. Finding someone in the position you want might not be too difficult, but finding someone to actually make you better certainly can be.
That’s the position West Ham are in at the moment, and it’s clear this is the problem particularly in attack.
Having lost out on Islam Slimani – though perhaps a reported thigh injury means the Hammers weren’t overly interested in the end – and several other reported links this month, they seem to have settled on Preston North End’s Jordan Hugill in the final hours of the window.
His name isn’t one which will be known to most Premier League fans unless they have a keen eye for the Championship, too.
Over the last two years, Preston have been punching above their weight. Last season, under Simon Grayson, they flirted with the play-offs until the final few weeks, whilst this season they are again only three points off that sixth spot now managed by Alex Neil.
In order to get to know Hugill and his game a bit better, I asked Sam Rourke, Editor-In-Chief of Football League World for his take.
“He’s a strong and powerful, bully type of striker who has flourished in the Championship over the last few seasons,” says Rourke. “He is excellent at holding the ball up and bringing other players into play, but his lack of pace and questionable mobility make me think he may struggle to score frequently in the top-flight.”
With only 18 goals in 87 league appearances spanning games and goals in every division. Indeed, one goal for the Hammers would see him become something of a pub quiz question, having scored in the Conference Premier – as it was called back then – League Two, League One and the Championship so far in his career. But he’s still only 25.
Despite that, though, his goal tally is hardly the type of otherworldly tally which players usually need in the lower leagues in order to impress a Premier League side of the size of West Ham. But that tells you what kind of striker he is: as Rourke points out, he’s a big aerial threat, not a mobile goalscorer.
That, however, could be exactly what the Hammers need. With Andy Carroll’s fitness proving that he’s unreliable as a starter, West Ham clearly need to ensure that they have a player who can play in that role, especially if they’re to get the best out of Javier Hernandez. David Moyes clearly wants to play in a certain way, and even if Hugill would not be prolific, he could well end up being very important to the Hammers’ overall game.
That’s not all he has to his game, though.
“Hugill has a hot-head too,” Rourke tells me, “ he’s often caught conceding fouls, but when he channels his focus in the right direction, he’s a useful striker. If a team hands Hugill a chance in the box, you’d put a lot of money on him finishing it, he’s a natural finisher in the 18-yard box.”
At the time of writing this isn’t a done deal, but things happen fast. That’s a good job, too, because West Ham don’t have long to make it happen and strengthen in a position that needs urgent attention.
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