Is Areola our long-term number one, or will he replace Fab this season?

The shotstopper had a great campaign with Fulham and is poised to challenge to be our number one

Lukasz Fabianski (WHU) at the EPL match West Ham United v Burnley, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th January, 2021. English Premier League matches are still being played behind closed doors because of the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and government social distancing/lockdown restrictions.

For as long as I can remember West Ham have been looking for a solid second choice goalkeeper. 

With Robert Green in goal, we had Ruud Boffin, Marek Stech, and Peter Kurucz, all of whom were rarely seen, thankfully. 

Green was replaced by the duo of Jussi Jääskelälinen and Adrián, arguably the most successful number one and two of recent times.

However, since Lukasz Fabianski came in and Adrian somehow secured a move to Liverpool, we have been scratching around for a solid back-up for the Polish international. 

With four competitions to take part in this season, it is easy to see why David Moyes was targeting a new goalkeeper this summer transfer window. 

It is the perfect time to bed a new goalkeeper in with additional fixtures to play this season, a second-choice keeper will get plenty of game time.

With Fabianski entering the final year of his contract, and with injuries and mistakes slowly starting to creep into his game, it is an opportunity to secure a more than solid stopper to compete and possibly even take over as number one by the time the season ends.

The former Swansea stopper has been a fantastic servant to the Irons and likely to rack up his 100th Premier League start for  David Moyes’ men at some point this season. 

However, a troublesome upper leg injury is starting to persist and kicking is becoming a real problem for the 36-year-old. 

Twinned with the errors made at St James’ Park last season and Anfield the season before last, it is understandable to see why we are eyeing a new ‘keeper and give the former Arsenal man some much-needed competition.

Alfonse Areola and Sam Johnstone were two names linked to the club with both excelling during troubling seasons for their club. 

Areola was, at one stage, on the cusp of joining us and I always felt it was easier to bring the Frenchman to the club over Johnstone. 

It was well documented that Areola was happy in London and with PSG spoilt for choice in their goalkeeper ranks with nine current keepers, it felt like a deal even David Sullivan couldn’t mess up. 

I was impressed with Areola in the games I saw him in last year. Commanding in his area, using his height effectively as well as being a solid shot-stopper keeping Fulham in games when they were well and truly under the cosh. 

He will be a more than adequate signing, offering potential to be a long time West Ham number one to replace Fabianski.

Should we move Fabianski on at the end of this season, and sign Areola permanently, I wouldn’t be against trying to sign Johnstone if he remains at West Brom Albion but both Arsenal and Wolves have been linked with him.

He was the busiest keeper in the Premier League last season as his West Bromwich Albion side were peppered from all angles during their relegation campaign. 

Indeed, the Baggies stopper completed the most saves of the Premier League season (166) and was rewarded with a call up to the England set-up for the Euros.

Failing that, it would allow the younger, highly thought of ‘keepers at West Ham, either Joseph Anang or Nathan Trott, rise into the number two spot. 

Trott has joined AS Nancy on loan in the Ligue 2 in an attempt to receive regular first-team football in a competitive league.

Should he impress there, his next steps must surely be to compete for first-team football at West Ham.

Now that we have signed Areola on loan, I suspect ‘keeper Darren Randolph’s days as a Hammer will be numbered, with David Martin signing a new one-year deal in his expected number three spot mentoring the likes of Anang and Krisztian Hegyi. 

Randolph, now in his second stint at West Ham, has been linked with a move back to Middlesbrough in recent weeks and has flattered to deceive when called upon this season, albeit not doing as horrifically as his predecessor Roberto between the sticks.

With time ticking, we must move to get our business done as soon as possible to get a settled squad ready for what promises to be an exciting season for the club.

At the time of writing this article the above was all speculation, and as we all know in football things can change very quickly!

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