Andy Carroll’s £15million move to West Ham has cemented his place as the most cumulatively expensive English player of all time, with his transfer fees totalling a whopping £50million.
Say what you want regarding the lanky striker’s quality and whether the enormous sums spent on him throughout his career are deserved, but few would begrudge him a place at Upton Park – the Hammers appear to be at the level that Carroll requires at this point in his career, and Sam Allardyce’s direct, organised and hard-working brand of football epitomises his unique qualities.
But if the £15million price-tag was reasonable to say the least, with former club Liverpool accepting a costly loss on their misguided £35million investment, the concern undoubtedly comes in regards to Carroll’s wages. The West Ham front man has been handed a bumper contract, but should the Upton Park faithful be alarmed by such a huge financial venture in a single player?
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The former Newcastle forward’s deal is a six year contract, with a salary of £100k per week, according to The Sun, and other mainstream newspapers. Should Carroll see out his full tenure at Upton Park, the total bill for his services will be around the £30million mark, and rather worryingly, it’s a pay rise of £20k per week from his previous arrangement with Liverpool. It’s the kind of salary you’d expect at a club battling regularly for European qualification, and although Big Sam and the West Ham board have stated their ambitions to rapidly improve as they enter a new era of the club’s history with their move to the Olympic stadium, there is still a long way to go in terms of raising the level of quality before they are challenging the likes of Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal or Tottenham any time soon.
Similarly, although Allardyce clearly has an undying faith in his towering target man, Carroll’s highest goal tally for any Premier League season came at his final year at Newcastle, where he recorded 11 goals in 17 appearances for the Magpies. Excluding his one year in the Championship, the 24 year old is yet to venture into double figures, with just 11 goals throughout his two seasons at Anfield and only seven from his year-long loan with West Ham. The Hammers boss is confident that Carroll could have broken the ten goal barrier had he remained fully fit this season, but there is still a risk in investing in a striker that has had just six months of noteworthy success, in terms of his statistics at least, in the English top flight.
Furthermore, the Hammers could fall curse to a perpetual problem that occurs with loan signings looking for a new home – they are desperate to impress whilst their future hangs delicately in the balance, but as soon as their next pay cheque is secured, the pressure to put in good performances diminishes. Carroll is a determined and aggressive professional, but making him the highest earner at Upton Park is unlikely to motivate him any further.
That being said, there is some weight behind the argument of making Carroll feel like a star player. Through no fault of his own, the occasional England international has come under widespread criticism from the British media and the Anfield faithful for his inability to regularly find the net, and whilst some players need the stick to keep them on edge, others need the carrott, and a more loving approach – a style of man-management the striker has lacked in abundance over the last three years.
Similarly, he is very much the human epitome of the Big Sam ethos. His height, power and aggression tells you all you need to know about how West Ham currently play their football, with an emphasis on aerial ability, physical robustness, work-rate and taking chances from dead-ball situations.
Likewise, although his goal to game ratio since moving to East London may not be prolific, Carroll’s influence in the final third has undoubtedly contributed more to the Hammers’ 45 Premier League goals this year than the striker’s four assists might suggest. There were countless occasions last season where Carroll’s sheer lofty presence caused enough confusion in the opponents’ penalty area, with often both opposing centre-backs attempting to confront him in the air, to allow room for his team-mates to exploit.
Kevin Nolan is by large the biggest benefactor, playing in a supporting role behind the lanky forward and making his customary late runs into the box; a simple tactic that provided him with ten Premier League goals this year. The combining dynamic of the two former Newcastle men was vital to West Ham’s top half finish, and it will have equal importance on results in the coming campaign.
Furthermore, seeing as Carroll has become an integral spearhead for the Hammers this season, it makes sense to tie him down for his best years. The striker’s contract wont wind down until he’s 30, whilst if the permanent move doesn’t work out as planned, it allows for Carroll to retain some resale value in the transfer market, without the usual scheming of clubs waiting for players to reach the final year of their contract before making a bid.
But it’s clear to see that so far in his career, Carroll has done little to justify a £100k salary package. The stats don’t lie, and for a striker, the Englishman’s current goal record does not stand up to divisional rivals, who by in large, will not command such a hefty weekly fee for their services.
That being said, how many proven alternatives are available to the West Ham gaffer? Their pursuit of Alvaro Negredo was always naive, even if the Sevilla forward could be available at a reduced rate this summer. He’s seen Carroll’s strengths and weaknesses, and has in many ways already forged a first team around the striker’s abilities. Sometimes in football you have to adhere to player’s demands, should they be the only available candidate who can fulfill an intrinsic and vital role.
But it’s a big gamble on Sam Allardyce’s part – they are unlikely to decline with Carroll’s influence, but it is difficult to tell what the next step will be in terms of improvement, without seriously altering the way the Hammers play, which could render the Englishman’s particular skills set rather redundant. Similarly, if the 24 year old fails to reach double figures next season, questions will be asked regarding Carroll’s overall quality.
Whether Carroll’s permanent move will result in success or failure, the buck will have to stop with the Hammers boss. The £15million transfer fee in addition to the £30million wage package represents a huge single investment for a club of West Ham’s stature, and the fans and the board will be expecting to see a return in league standing sooner rather than later.
Does Andy Carroll’s wage package represent a huge risk on Big Sam’s part?
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