There was a time, and in fact quite recently, where the third round of the FA Cup filled me with dread and fear, and it had nothing to do with our opponents or the result. It was that traditional time where I would wait with baited breath to see our line-up in that cup tie to see who was missing, who had suddenly picked up a training ground knock or was simply being rested.
What that thinly veiled guise actually pointed to was who exactly was going to be shipped out during that dreaded January transfer window. But that fear is no more. We are not a selling club, or so we are told, that sort of thing is behind us. No longer do we have to fear the loss of our most important assets. Those of you who breathed a sigh of relief when Marko got injured and therefore would not return prior to that window shutting can rest at ease all those worries are behind us. But what of our needs?
The January transfer window is, we are told, a notorious time to do business. Fees are normally inflated and it has often proved not to be a happy hunting ground for the Hammers. It may be felt with £100 million of Sullivan and Gold’s hard-earned cash spent in the summer that there would be no money left for the winter window, but to coin Jim Lovell (ask your Dad): ‘Houston we have a problem’.
As usual we find ourselves with an injury crisis and to coin a phrase often used by last month’s crowned king of the jungle, we are down to the bare bones. It thus maybe necessary to delve once more into that dreaded market to ensure we maintain the good form we entered the Christmas period with.
No doubt we will end up with a few loan signings but who knows with the extra money available from those added seats at the London Stadium it might just result in a few more players coming in to play in the claret and blue of West Ham. There are a few shortcomings in our squad at present and those will need to be addressed. So let’s first look at the defence. At goalkeeper and centre back we have an embarrassment of riches but what about the flanks?
It’s been proven that Arthur is not a left back and sadly Cresswell has never been the same player since his injury, thus left back is a priority and so too is right back. I love Zabaleta but he is no longer capable of playing every game and as for Fredericks, even before his injury he had shown the jump from Championship to the Premier League is bigger than was expected.
So what’s out there that may make Sully part with his cash? If reports can be believed we seem to be interested in Leonardo Koutris who recently made his debut for Greece in their recent victory against Finland. It seems that our director of football, Mario Husillos, was there in attendance to cast an eye on the Olympiacos 23-year-old. Could he be winging his way to the London Stadium?
So that’s the left back position sorted but what of the right back position? No doubt Sullivan will try to influence Pellegrini that Antonio can fill in at that position as this is something he had done in the past but it’s a position Michail dislikes playing. There is help on hand and a player just across London who we could obtain on a loan. That player is David Zappacosta.
The Italian right back has not had much of a look in at Chelsea. He is a good defender who also likes to bomb forward and can actually cross the ball. Mauricio Sarri has an embarrassment of riches at right back and could be persuaded to allow the right back to have a second attempt at conquering the Premier League.
Of course if Zappacosta stays at Stamford Bridge we could also try for Victor Moses. One other right back also comes to mind and that is Cedric Soares of Southampton. The Portuguese international may wish for a rest from the relegation battle but Southampton would probably want a cash deal and at a price tag of around £10 million that may be too pricey for our board.
That’s the defence sorted but what of the midfield? With Yarmolenko out for the season and no confirmed date for the return of Lanzini, I feel we will need to search the market for a creative midfielder. One player that immediately comes to mind is the MLS star Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron. But the Paraguayan is rated at around £25 million and that may be a tad pricey for this transfer window.
Just maybe we have the trump card here with us already having “the General” already at the club, so who knows we could have another Spanish speaking player at the club, it’s not as if he would be lonely. And with 21 goals in 62 games, his goals-to-game ratio, albeit in a lower league, cannot be sniffed at.
There are two old Pellegrini favourites that, by the time you read this, could already be at the club. Once more Yaya Toure has been linked with the club and of course Sami Nasri has been training at the club for several weeks. With both those players not requiring a transfer fee they just may be the players our board would welcome rather than to gamble on an untried MLS star.
So that just leaves the forward line, now this is a position where our board has been repeatedly burned in previous years, anyone remember Mido? One player who has been linked and could be a real asset is Nantes striker Emiliano Sala who is currently the top scorer in the French League. The Nantes hotshot has struck 12 goals so far this season at a rate of one goal every 92 minutes of action.
Sala is rated at around £20 million but remember West Ham paid that fee for Andre Ayew so we have spent that amount of money on a striker before. Of course this could all be fantasy and we may end up obtaining no one. It’s pretty clear that our board will want to sell first and we could see Reece Oxford, Michail Antonio and maybe even Andy Carroll depart.
But remember it seems that Pellegrini is a very different prospect to what our board has dealt with before. If the Anderson transfer in the summer is anything to go by what Pellegrini wants, Pellegrini gets. I have a feeling that the month of January will be very interesting for us Hammers supporters, let’s wait and see.