Special Report: West Ham strike force set for major overhaul this summer

West Ham United are set to perform major surgery on the club’s striking department in the summer, per Football FanCast sources.

The Hammers spent the majority of January hunting for a striker amid fears that Marko Arnautovic would leave for China.

He was eventually convinced to sign a new contract at the club, but that deal contains a clause that allows him to leave in the summer should a £45million bid be tabled.

Sources at the club have intimated that they do not expect that clause to be met by any interested party when the transfer window reopens, though there is a belief that three strikers could leave the club.

Lucas Perez, a striker who has not played since January, will be sold. One source told FFC that manager Manuel Pellegrini “does not see him as a footballer”, such has been his lack of end product at the London Stadium.

Javier Hernandez, too, is set to depart the club.

Pellegrini has placed his faith in the Mexico international repeatedly over the past few weeks, but he turned in a risible performance against Cardiff City at the weekend. Add to that the fact that he has scored just once in his last nine outings for the club and it becomes apparent that he is not providing value for money for the Irons.

A move to Valencia was mooted in January but was ultimately turned down due to the Irons’ fear of being left short in the striking department if Arnautovic departed too.

Marko Arnautovic turns his back

Andy Carroll, meanwhile, is a sorry case. He has picked up another injury and may well have played his last game for the club.

His current contract expires in the summer but the Irons do hold an option to extend that if they so wish. As it stands, the chances of the clause being triggered are slim to none.

Sources at the club do not expect Carroll to fetch any sort of fee in the summer, thus reinforcing the desire to take the opportunity to shift him off the wage bill.

Arnautovic’s future, however, is thorny.

The club remain interested in Maxi Gomez, the Celta Vigo striker that they targeted at the turn of the year. Gomez has a £42m release clause in his contract – the Hammers, hence, needed to sell Arnautovic to fund any potential move for the forward in January – but that could drop to £22m, per the Daily Mirror, if Celta are relegated. They are currently 18th in La Liga and have not won any of their last five games.

It is likely a bid will be placed for Gomez in the summer but sources have suggested that he could come in as a partner to Arnautovic, instead of a replacement.

The Austria international has not started for the Irons since his transfer saga but is likely to be restored to the starting XI this weekend when the Irons face Huddersfield Town.

Nevertheless, unlike his three strike partners, Arnautovic remains in manager Pellegrini’s plans and may well be forced to stay in the summer.

A Daily Mail report had suggested that he could again look to leave the club due to frustrations with his playing time but his deal now runs until 2023 and the club are under no pressure to sell.

Unless his release clause is met – it bears repeating that West Ham do not expect any club to bid £45m for Arnautovic in the summer – he will likely stay at the club.

It remains to be seen, however, who will help him up front, particularly with three players set to depart the London Stadium.