West Ham United dodged a bullet with their failed pursuit of Josh Maja in January as the Girondins de Bordeaux striker has proven to be a flop at Fulham.
The Irons were credited with an interest in a move for Maja before the Frenchman joined Scott Parker’s relegation-threatened Cottagers on loan, with the Sunderland product targeted as a replacement for Sebastien Haller.
David Moyes held a keen awareness in the 22-year-old as he faced an uncertain future in Ligue 1 after falling out of favour at the Matmut Atlantique, where Jean Louis Gasset had awarded Maja only 11 starts in 17 top-flight appearances this term.
Fulham eventually came to his rescue and offered Maja a move to the Premier League on Deadline Day, and would seal his signature on a half-season loan that carries a £9m option to purchase.
It remains to be seen if the south west Londoners intend to buy the one-time Nigeria international, but his form across the capital will have given West Ham confidence that they made the right decision by walking away from negotiations with Bordeaux.
Maja made his 11th outing for the Cottagers on Sunday as they held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw thanks to the London-born forward converting from the spot inside a quarter of an hour of the second half, after Gabriel Magalhaes was deemed to have fouled Mario Lemina.
It was only the third goal that Maja has scored for Parker’s side since his arrival after a brace at Everton in February, after being given the first start in the Premier League of his career at Goodison Park.
He has since started just a further seven top-flight games but failed to have any direct involvement in the scoring, and has only helped Fulham to clinch nine additional points in their quest for survival.
Parker expected Maja to boost the Cottagers’ threat in the final third when his signing was finalised, as “the boy’s a finisher” and he settled into his new club quickly.
Parker said, via quotes by the Independent: “I’m very pleased we’ve got him with us and have got him on board, and I’m looking forward to seeing his qualities and working with him.”
But Maja has proven to be an underwhelming signing for Fulham that West Ham did well to avoid, having directed just 0.5 shots on target per Premier League game and offered little offensive creativity for his Cottagers teammates with 0.5 key passes, per WhoScored.
Haller may not have set the world alight in claret and blue with three goals in 16 Premier League games this term, but had offered West Ham a marginally superior option with 0.7 on-target efforts and 0.6 key passes on average a game.
Antonio, meanwhile, has seven goals in 21 appearances this term thanks to striking one of his average 2.4 shots on target per game, and has offered the second-most assists (5) at the London Stadium from an average of one key pass an outing.
If West Ham had been the ones to unveil Maja as a Deadline Day signing, he would likely have spent the following months sitting on the bench waiting for his chance, having proven to be a flop at Fulham where minutes have been more regularly forthcoming.