West Ham’s summer signings: Real ambition or setting unrealistic expectations?

West Ham United have been among the more active sides in the transfer window so far and the nature of their activity seemingly signals strong intent to improve on last season’s mid-table finish and establish themselves as Europa League regulars.

The Hammers have a shot at European football this term thanks to the UEFA fair play system but have so far made heavy going of their qualifiers.

They also won’t be getting in on fair play again anytime soon, having a terrible disciplinary record since their quest for the group stages began.

Are the new additions to the squad the right type of players to elevate the club’s performance and stature or is new boss Slaven Bilic merely overseeing a spending spree that will leave the fans disappointed?

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The marquee capture so far has been that of attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet.

The playmaker arrives on the back of an excellent season with Marseille so expectations are sure to be high. Last season the Frenchman wracked up 16 Ligue 1 assists; one of the best returns around Europe’s top leagues.

This figure, along with his £11million price tag, will have supporters confident the club have acquired a player of real quality and creative spark.

Payet is technically excellent but he is small in stature and having spent his entire career in France so far, the club are gambling to an extent that he can make the transition to the rigorous Premiership.

A further £8million has been spent of defensive reinforcement in the form of Angelo Ogbonna.

Unlike Payet, Ogbonna should have little problems adapting, on the pitch at least; the 6 ft 3 centre back will relish the physical aspect of his new challenge.

He has come in from Juventus and with 10 International caps for Italy to his name, bringing a certain amount of experience and pedigree.

The 27-year-old is a powerful athlete but he is capable of passing too and in general looks to be a fairly solid addition to Bilic’s squad.

Also coming in from Serie A is former Sampdoria midfielder Pedro Obiang. The Spaniard was acquired for a more modest fee of around £4.4million.

He will give Bilic another option in the middle of the park, albeit not a goal-scoring one. The 23-year-old has just four senior strikes to his name but has performed consistently for his previous club over the last five seasons, giving him good experience for his age.

He is another one, though, that will need to adapt quickly for West Ham to see benefit this term, with his acquisition nullifying the loss of Alex Song.

A key piece of business has also been to secure the services of Carl Jenkinson on loan from Arsenal for another season.

The young Englishman was a consistent performer last term and the deal seems like a good move on West Ham’s part, as it takes care of a full back slot with no risk involved.

The club’s other loan capture will be less well known to anyone in English football. Manuel Lanzini has come in on a one season deal from Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf League.

The 22-year-old winger is capped by Argentina at youth level but with his diminutive stature, will need to have plenty of tricks in his repertoire.

The only other addition to date has been journeyman goalkeeper Darren Randolph, who has clearly been added with strength in depth in mind. Both Bilic and the club’s fan base, will be hopeful of further arrivals before the transfer window shuts.

The principle piece of business still to be done concerns Song. The midfielder spent last season on loan at Upton Park and remains a key target for the club with his current employer, Barcelona, seemingly willing to let him leave on a free transfer.

The Cameroonian impressed last term and is likely to have other suitors. West Ham are currently in contract discussions with the former Arsenal man and Bilic seems hopeful.

The manager has stated that he plans to add at least two more players to his squad this summer. If one is Song then the other would seem to be a striker.

Charlie Austin seems destined for a return to the top flight after his exploits last term and West Ham are in the mix of clubs chasing his signature. Alternatives targets include Fenerbahce forward Moussa Sow and Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez.

Landing any one of the three would be a further serious statement of intent, and if one of them can be lured to East London then they will surely be relishing the service that Payet will provide.

In general the summer business shows that the Hammers are not simply happy to rest on their laurels, but make genuine progress.

The key additions to the squad, including the manager himself, all come with impressive statistics and a great deal of potential.

There will be a lot for them to prove though, as Bilic attempts to help his new charges gel before the Premier League kicks off.

The Upton park faithful will be less than impressed to date, given the penalty shootout victory over Maltese minnows Birkirkara and last night’s debacle against Astra Giurgiu in which Bilic himself was sent from the touchline.