It’s silly season when it comes to transfer rumours, and as ever with West Ham, it’s silly season when it comes to players linked with transfers to the club.
Here’s a look at five players tipped to don the claret and blue in 2021… even though they probably won’t. Or maybe they will. Who knows?
Jovane Cabral: West Ham have been linked with this 22-year-old Cape Verde international winger for some time now, with the rumours emanating from reports that we made a bid for him in the summer of £13m (although allegedly, Sporting Lisbon wanted closer to £18m). Last season, he hit the net six times, so whilst the return has been OK, you’d hardly say that he was prolific.
He’d be a “nice to have” signing, and whilst a potential fly in the ointment might be his £54m release clause. But if he fails to sign a new contract with Sporting, the fee might be revised downwards significantly, so that might pique David Moyes’ interest as he searches for backup for his current striking options.
Verdict: Unlikely to make the trip to east London, with one alleged bid already being rejected; a talent no doubt, but is he who we really need?
Alex Kral: There’s been claims that West Ham are looking to sign some midfield backup in January, and 22-year-old Spartak Moscow player Kral could fit the bill – after all, central midfield options are light; if Rice or Soucek are injured, there’s not a huge amount of cover in that position.
The Czech Republic international would be a snip at the quoted £12 – £15 million, and having started his career as a defender, he would add good protection to the defence.
Having moved to midfield, he can play a holding role, but also be a box-to-box runner. Frankly, given his youth, and his flexibility, his signing would also give competition to a player whose best years are ahead of him.
Verdict: His signing would be great value for the money, given his versatility. Only a 50/50 chance of arrival though; it’ll be interesting to see whether the reports are accurate.
Moussa Dembele: Apparently David Moyes has been keeping an eye on the 24-year old Dembele. Arguably the highest-profile player on this list, the striker joined Lyon from Celtic in 2018 for £19.8 million, and has gone on to score 44 goals in 102 appearances (he also scored 51 in 94 for Celtic before his move).
Even though he’s found goals harder to come by in France, it’s still a decent record and there’s no doubt he would be welcome at the London Stadium, adding potency to the attack.
However, according to newspaper reports, Lyon value him at £30m and that kind of ask is likely to place West Ham out of any running for the player.
It’s probably fair to say that marquee signings from previous years haven’t worked out, and it seems unlikely that we’ll be in the mood to part with that kind of cash again any time soon.
Verdict: Felipe Anderson and Sebastian Haller are the two players we have signed for £30m or more. Our fingers got burned. Are we really going to do that again?
Frederik Alves: At the time of writing, according to reports we are to sign defender Alves for around £1.2 million (that seems such a pitiful amount!) from Silkeborg when the winter transfer window opens in January, with the fee having been agreed in October.
The only fly in the ointment might be the requirement for a UK work permit – Brexit might scupper that – but if successful, he could be an extremely shrewd acquisition, following in the footsteps of Tomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal and others.
West Ham have actually had a good defensive record this season, but further strength in defence may tighten things further.
The Danish under-21 centre back made his debut for Silkeborg in 2018, and in that season helped the club to promotion, becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet. However, in November Silkeborg announced that he had been sold to an as-yet-unnamed side, believed to be West Ham.
We will wait and see: if he does arrive, it’ll be interesting to see if he goes straight into the first team, or whether he will start in the under-23s.
Verdict: Probably London Stadium-bound, as long as Brexit doesn’t get in the way. If he’s another Soucek, we’re in business.
Adam Armstrong: The third striker on this list, reports suggest that West Ham are interested in signing this 23-year-old who’s been scoring goals for fun in the Championship for Blackburn Rovers.
Sixteen goals for the side last season is nothing to be sniffed at, and he’s likely to exceed that this time around.
He’d certainly be popular amongst the fan base: young, quick and hungry, Armstrong’s signing would certainly add depth to the attack.
Whilst Antonio’s recent absence didn’t affect results, it was clear that the team often play to his strengths and Haller doesn’t quite perform the same role, with goals proving much harder to come by.
If West Ham were to confirm his signing, it would increase competition in the forward line, especially as Armstrong looks like a player who could make the step up. Imagine him banging in the goals in the Premier League – alongside Antonio, and with backup from Bowen, Haller et al, we’d look a seriously dangerous proposition.
Verdict: Possible, but Blackburn won’t let him go easily… or on the cheap. Personally though, I’d drive to Blackburn myself to get him!