West Ham are busy West Ham-ing again, this time when it comes to the comings and goings of one 23-year-old Albian Ajeti.
The striker failed to hit the net in a year at West Ham and left in a money-losing deal, only to find the net immediately for new club Celtic.
Is he another example of a poorly thought out West Ham transfer (aka peak West Ham), or was it good business to cut our losses with a player who couldn’t deliver?
Swiss international Ajeti signed for £8m from Swiss club Basel in August 2019 and was sold to Celtic just one year later for £4.5million.
It’s a transfer made at a loss for West Ham; another fine deal for a reportedly cash-strapped club who, if the word on the street is to be believed, are struggling to find money to find a replacement for Aaron Cresswell. Ho hum.
The irrecoverable £3.5m loss proved no return on investment during Ajeti’s short time at the club, and it’s extremely unfortunate for the promising striker that he never got to strike it rich in east London.
After all, his performance at previous club Basel was a strong one; he scored 30 goals in just two seasons.
With an average of 15 goals per season, it’s a far cry from his meager zero goals in just 12 appearances for us.
His career at Celtic has got off to a strong start, with him scoring the late winner for Celtic against Dundee United – and before you write off the opposition, please remember he was part of the starting line up at West Ham while we lost 4-0 to Oxford last September.
So why didn’t it work at West Ham – and is this just another peak West Ham signing?
It’s possible that yet again it’s not him – it’s us. We signed a player who didn’t fit the brief, and didn’t know what to do with him when he arrived.
He didn’t play much under Pellegrini, and it’s clear that Moyes had no intention of playing Ajeti either.
Even when injuries put us woefully short of players, Ajeti didn’t stand a chance of getting game time as anything other than a late substitute.
He played so infrequently for West Ham that it’s hard to write objectively about whether or not he had potential, when the truth is we just didn’t see him.
While he showed flashes of hard work in his limited time on the pitch, we saw him for just nine substitute appearances and only three starts – all in cup competitions and against Gillingham, Oxford and Newport County.
It would be diplomatic to say that a longer run of opportunities may have led to success, but there is no scenario in which he would have been given those opportunities by Moyes – so there’s no scenario where he would have been successful.
We needed a striker who could score on many occasions this season, and no matter how desperate we were, he still couldn’t get on the pitch – and there’s something weird about that.
There’s no suggestion that he’s lazy, has a poor attitude; nothing like that.
On signing for Celtic, he stated he’s “a hard-working player.” He continued by saying ‘I score goals, this is what I do. I’m a strong striker, I love the contact’ – and the truth is we don’t have any evidence to disprove that.
His time at West Ham went by in a flash – and it’s likely that in another flash, we’ll forget he was even here.
Somehow, that’s not even a criticism of the player – but it is a criticism of the club.
Ajeti is just one of a plethora of misguided signings made by West Ham that were, quite frankly, a waste of fans’ money and the player’s time.
We’ve seen too many players come to the club in recent years who never really played. This isn’t good business for a football club and it’s unsustainable – and yet we keep repeating our mistakes year after year after year.
Ajeti deserves success after what must have been a miserable year in east London – and although it’s early days, he looks set to find it in Scotland.
However, whether or not the Hammers will look to make more successful signings in the future remains to be seen.