It’s an exciting time to be a West Ham fan. The club are playing well on the pitch, spending money off it and are set for a massive move to the Olympic Stadium, which will be among the best grounds in the Premier league as of next season.
Anticipation is, naturally, at fever pitch, but there’s every chance that 2016/17 could be a tricky one for the Irons, who are likely to be balancing European football and domestic responsibilities, and as we’ve seen this season, Slaven Bilic’s impressive starting XI is a little short of cover to slot straight in.
With the increased revenue from the eye-watering Premier League TV deal and the boost in finances the club will receive from moving to their new home in Stratford, the cash for additions should be in place without player sales, and here are FIVE ambitious targets that should be on the lips of those in charge at Upton Park…
Already a £20m target to kick off the next era at the club, Batshuayi seems like a player the club will be going after this summer. The Belgian – the latest to roll of the nation’s never-ending conveyor belt of talent – has enjoyed a fine breakthrough season so far at Marseille, with the exit of Andre-Pierre Gignac having afforded him regular game time as the focal point of l’OM’s attack.
16 goals all told this season – including a debut strike at international level – leaves him just shy of the fabled ‘one in two’ mark given that he’s made 34 appearances, but that’s no slight on the player at all, with Marseille stuck in very middle of Ligue 1.
Although the Hammers boast Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Emmenuel Emenike, albeit the latter is only on loan, Bilic’s options up top have been restricted by injury, so another option would surely be beneficial.
Goalscoring attacking midfielders are always useful, and there aren’t many better in Europe right now than Deportivo La Coruna’s Perez. The 27-year-old has endured a strange career that has taken him from his Spanish homeland to Ukraine and Greece, but he seems to have settled with the Galician side after making his loan stint last season a permanent one over the summer.
With 14 La Liga goals, he’s currently above the likes of Gareth Bale, Antoine Griezmann and even Lionel Messi in the division’s scoring charts, with his performances a major factor in Depor’s relatively lofty position of ninth – the club have endured a difficult few years, only regaining top tier status for 2014/15.
Although West Ham have Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio and loanee Manuel Lanzini, Perez’s talents would surely be welcome, especially with European football a distinct possibility.
An ambitious target, granted… but why not have a go? Reports have suggested that the Hammers are keen on the Senegalese star, and with Southampton currently looking like a side destined to tread water in midtable and sell off big stars, perhaps the lure of the ‘project’ at West Ham and life in London could sway him.
Mane’s pace and direct running could add another dimension to Bilic’s attack and help to get the best out of current Irons players such as Valencia and Sakho. Plus, imagine Mane on one flank, with Payet on the opposite side. Magic.
Although West Ham’s midfield currently possesses a nice balance of guile and power, there’s always room for improvement, and Neves would certainly be a statement signing. Reports have already suggested that the Londoners are looking at the 18-year-old, who has already been lauded for his neat passing and maturity – evident when Porto names him their captain during a Champions League clash earlier this season to make him the youngest skipper in the tournament’s history – so it’s possible.
Other sides such as Liverpool are thought to be keen, but with Neves so young they could, perhaps, be deterred from making a move, leaving the door ajar for West Ham.
Yep, Lanzini still isn’t, officially, a West Ham player. ‘The Jewel’ remains a loanee from Middle Eastern outfit Al Jazira, but Hammers big-shot David Sullivan has already declared a willingness to pursue a deal for the player. The 22-year-old Argentine’s four goals in 14 Premier League appearances have defied expectation, and his growing importance has been reflected in the way the Hammers have missed him during his recent injury absences.
It’s likely other English and European sides will be sniffing around Lanzini this summer, but the lure of staying and moving with the club to the Olympic Stadium could be decisive.