Co-chairman David Sullivan told TalkSPORT in March that a star-studded centre-forward would be West Ham’s priority for the summer transfer window, leading to copious links with Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette and AC Milan frontman Carlos Bacca throughout the off-season.
Despite a willingness to splash the cash, however, a glass ceiling remained between the east London club and the top end of the striker market, which eventually forced them to settle for signing Juventus forward Simone Zaza (famed for his abysmal penalty kick at Euro 2016) on a season-long loan.
But the Italy international’s agent and father Antonio has now told TuttoJuve that West Ham are obliged to sign his son permanently after ten appearances. He’s already made five across all competitions.
As translated into English by IBT, he said; “He is on loan from Juventus with an obligation to buy after 10 appearances. I think he has four or five so far.”
It’s a rather surprising claim, yet there’s not an obvious motivation for Antonio Zaza to lie. After all, he’s discussing his son’s future with a website devoted to the striker’s parent club, Juventus. It would be pretty embarrassing – and quite bizarre – if Zaza senior was telling tall tales that could not only affect his future at West Ham but also in Turin.
Likewise, such deals aren’t unheard of. In fact, I’m sure you’ve done something similar on Football Manager on more than one occasion to get around budget issues.
Fearing they’d leave themselves red-faced after failing to achieve their own self-publicised objective of bringing in a high-quality goalscorer, perhaps West Ham hastily agreed to the deal as Deadline Day loomed. Let’s not forget Zaza signed for the Hammers on August 28th.
Based on current form, definitely not. Zaza is yet to score for the Hammers and was dropped to the bench for the 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough last weekend, albeit allowed to enter the fray at half-time. In fact, from 258 minutes of Premier League action, he’s managed just six efforts at goal – none of which have been on target.
At the moment, the former Sassuolo talisman looks like a bit of a dud, so being forced to sign him permanently would be viewed as a bit of a disaster by Irons fans.
That being said, West Ham have been pretty shocking all round this season, so placing all their woes on a largely isolated centre-forward would be naive. Zaza’s still just 25 years of age and boasts a decent scoring record from his time in Serie A, so it could simply be a case of the powerful forward settling to the style of the Premier League.