David Sullivan must deliver Watford forward Ismaila Sarr to David Moyes as West Ham United look to solve their striker crisis following Sebastien Haller’s exit.
According to The Sun, the Irons are ready to splash £30m to make Sarr the club’s first signing of the January transfer window with Moyes on the lookout for attacking reinforcements.
Michail Antonio is now the east London outfit’s sole recognised senior centre-forward after the club sold Haller to AFC Ajax for £20m on Friday, leaving Moyes facing the fraught prospect of fielding no strikers at all if Sullivan fails to land a new addition this month.
Watford were able to retain Sarr in the previous transfer window after rejecting a £25m bid from Crystal Palace despite their relegation to the Championship, but West Ham are expected to top the Eagles’ offer to test the Hornets resolve.
The Vicarage Road natives are quietly confident they will be able to once again fend off any interest despite an expectancy that clubs will test the waters, looking to sign the Senegal forward who both Liverpool and Manchester United were denied last summer through their refusals to meet Watford’s £40-50m valuation.
Sarr has been a creative force in the second-tier this season with the 22-year-old speed machine offering four goals and five assists in 18 appearances, living up to Sadio Mane’s hype after the Reds gem told The Athletic: “He’s rapid. I think defenders will struggle.
“I was speaking to Robbo [Andy Robertson], I said, ‘Watford have a really good player. I will need to help you more otherwise Ismaila Sarr will kill you, because he is a good dribbler and very, very fast.’”
Landing Sarr may prove expensive for West Ham but the £63,000-per-week forward may prove to be the Irons’ dream deal in their search of Haller’s replacement. The club, if they do a deal, would be delivering Moyes a clinical talent who would add versatility and brutality to the Scot’s attacking line.
Sarr has netted goals and provided assists from central and wide-right positions for Watford this season, and is firmly a star who former Premier League striker Kevin Phillips believes is a “top player” who “will only get better”.
Moyes would take a great deal of confidence in Sarr’s arrival through his creativity in the Championship so far this season, with the 32-cap attacker creating six big chances for Watford to score on top of his assists, while spurning three clear cut chances himself, per SofaScore.
The 6ft Senegalese dynamo further takes 1.5 shots and offers 0.8 key passes a game in the second-tier, while winning 6.4 duels with a 50% success rate, being fouled 2.9 times, winning possession 0.7 times, and delivering 0.5 accurate crosses.
Sarr’s ability to play on the wing and thrive through the centre is also very reminiscent of Antonio’s rise to prominence at the London Stadium, with him having often been a wide player before the 5 ft 10 gem made a move to striker and became West Ham’s main forward threat.