If you were to look at one position where West Ham struggled last season, it would undoubtedly be their strikers.
Between the five “out and out” strikers used over the season (Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Simone Zaza, Jonathan Callieri and Ashley Fletcher), there was just nine goals scored with the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Andre Ayew and Michail Antonio helping from midfield.
While last season – particularly the first half – was a disappointment after the exciting seventh-placed finish the season before, the lack of a consistently firing front man is hardly a new problem for the Hammers.
It may come as a surprise to some, for example, to find out that the East London side haven’t had a striker score more than 10 goals during a Premier League season in a decade – since Bobby Zamora managed 11 in the 2006/07 season.
It’s a stat that beggars belief considering how West Ham have only missed one season in the top flight since then. Worryingly still, of the current crop of strikers it seems unlikely the streak will be broken with Andy Carroll married to the treatment table and Diafra Sakho making more headlines off the pitch and on it.
That is, unless Slaven Bilic manages to bring in a proven goalscorer – enter Javier Hernandez.
After a disappointing season where they finished in 12th place, Bayer Leverkusen are having something of an exodus as Ömer Toprak and Hakan Calhanoglu have moved on, with the Mexican expected to follow them out the door.
With reports of Hernandez having a £13million release clause, there is understandably a lot of interest in acquiring his services, with Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham heavily linked.
It’s the Hammers who would surely find more to gain from signing the ex-Manchester United striker, who enjoyed a fruitful spell at Old Trafford.
‘Chicarito’ endeared himself to the Red Devils with his clever movement and sharp finishing and managed 20 goals in his first season while also managing double figures in three of his four full seasons, despite not being a regular starter.
He has also impressed in the past on loan at Real Madrid, as well as managing an astonishing 39 goals in 76 games over the last two seasons in Germany.
If Bilic wants a man who guarantees goals there aren’t many better – especially for that price, even if you factor in the striker’s reported £140,000-a-week wage demands.
While he would be a departure from West Ham’s recent approach of a tall striker to aim crosses at, there is every chance Hernandez would thrive should Bilic change his approach. With the impeccable delivery of Dimitri Payet now missing from their arsenal and Lanzini’s penchant for a killer ball, this may well be the idea.
Some would say that having a striker who only offers goals when you won’t make them that many chances is a mistake, but if chances are at a premium, wouldn’t it make sense to have someone that puts them away?
And just think how well he would combine in a big man, little man partnership should Carroll remain fit or a striker in the shape of Olivier Giroud arrive.
If either of the above happened, you can bet West Ham fans won’t have a lot to moan about in the striker department for long.
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