David Moyes has his work cut out for him this summer. We are set to lose the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko and Ryan Fredericks on free transfers at the end of the season, and it looks exceedingly unlikely that Czech international midfielder, Alex Král, will have his loan deal made permanent.
The stalwart presence of our captain, Mark Noble, will be missing from the dressing room too as he brings an end to a fantastic career with the club. A revamp of the squad is long overdue.
On reflection, Moyes will rue the fact that he was unable to bring any signings in during the January transfer window. With a fully-fit team, we have been a force to be reckoned with this season, but a series of injuries to key players and a build-up of fatigue in the squad has almost certainly put an end to our top four push.
Doubtless, Moyes’ reluctance to splash the cash on players that would not improve the first-team is admirable, but it has left the squad thin on the ground in too many departments. An overhaul is necessary, and a cash injection from new shareholder Daniel Křetínský comes at the perfect time to aid with recruitment in the summer.
Here are some of the positions that Moyes will surely look to strengthen ahead of the 2022/2023 season.
With Łukasz Fabiański turning 37 this month, we will surely be keen to tie down a goalkeeper who can continue to push the Pole for the number 1 spot.
There has been much talk about West Brom’s Sam Johnstone joining on a free from the Baggies, but Moyes should look no further than on-loan keeper, Alphonse Areola, who has been exceptional when called upon this season.
An £11 million deal is said to be in place for the French shot-stopper, and his top draw performances have left little doubt in the mind of many that he would be an ideal long-term replacement for Fabiański.
Losing Angelo Ogbonna to injury has been a massive blow for the team this season, but Kurt Zouma and Craig Dawson have been able to build a solid partnership in the heart of our defence.
Issa Diop provides adequate cover at the back, and youngsters Aji Alese and Jamal Baptiste are developing into fine young players, but Moyes seems reluctant to offer the youngsters first team football for now.
Reports suggest that we have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in place with Fiorentina for Nikola Milenković, and we have also been heavily linked with the Marseille centre-back, Duje Ćaleta-Car. The Croat looked set to join the club in January as part of a £15 million deal which ultimately failed to materialise, but for such a price, Moyes would be unwise not to revisit the deal in the summer to bring in cover at the back.
Club scouts have also been tracking Nottingham Forest’s Joe Worrall, an exceptional talent who looks ready to make the step up from the Championship. We’ve previously looked to the second-tier to strengthen the squad in the past, with Jarrod Bowen and Aaron Cresswell proving that there are top-quality players in the league who can quickly adapt to play at the highest level.
There’s always a risk involved with bringing in Championship players, but Worrall has impressed against Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester in the FA Cup this season, demonstrating that he is well-equipped for life at the top.
With Aaron Cresswell turning 33 later this year, our failure to move for Lucas Digne in January seems all the more ridiculous in hindsight. When Cresswell had his spell on the side-lines earlier this season, Moyes scrambled to find a solution, moving Ben Johnson over to left-back and later testing Pablo Fornals out as a wing-back.
One player who could challenge for Cresswell’s spot, however, is Villareal’s Pervis Estupiñán, a player that we have reportedly tracked since last summer. The Ecuadorian is reportedly keen on a move to the Premier League, and has been a vital cog in the defence of a club which has managed to reach the last eight of the Champions League. He is known for his excellent interception ability, and can break forward as well as he can defend.
One player that has continually been linked to the club is Leeds and England midfielder, Kalvin Phillips. We saw a £50 million bid rejected in January, but with Leeds sitting just outside the relegation zone, Phillips may feel it’s time to move on from the Yorkshire club in an attempt to challenge for European football.
Having another defensive midfielder would relieve some of the pressure on Declan Rice and Tomáš Souček, and with the return of Conor Coventry, who has impressed out on loan at MK Dons, Moyes should have a bountiful selection of midfielders to cover the position.
A cheaper alternative to Phillips would be Marseille’s Boubacar Kamara, who is available on a free transfer when his contract expires in the summer. The 22-year-old Frenchman has attracted attention from Atlético Madrid, Manchester United and Newcastle, but it would be a real statement of intent if we could lure him to London in the summer.
Following his successful loan spell at the club during the latter half of last season, Jesse Lingard has been continually linked with a return to east London. Lingard hit nine goals in 16 appearances for us, and it was clear to see that Lingard fell back in love with the game at West Ham, before returning to his boyhood club to challenge for his place.
He has ultimately been unable to secure any substantial playing time this season and will be available on a free transfer when his contract expires in June. It’s up for debate as to whether lightning can strike twice, but Moyes knows how to bring the best out of Lingard, and the fans would love to see him back in claret and blue.
By the time the summer window opens in June, it will have been 18 months since we sold Sébastian Haller to Ajax, and Moyes is yet to bring in a replacement. Michail Antonio is our only recognised striker, and while his form at the start of the season left defenders terrified, our overreliance on Antonio has left the forward sluggish and exhausted of late.
It is absolutely vital that we bring in at least one striker during the summer window to provide competition for the position. A whole host of forwards have been linked to the club over the last year, from Blackburn’s Ben Brereton-Diaz and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, to Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick and FC Basel’s Arthur Cabral.
Chelsea’s Armando Broja, who’s currently out on loan at Southampton, offers a fantastic striker option, and would fit excellently into Moyes’ current system. The Albanian has impressed at the south coast club during his first season at the top level, and he even scored against us in our defeat to the Saints in the FA Cup 5th round.
In January, a late attempt was made to bring in Benfica’s Darwin Núñez, a prolific Uruguayan forward who has scored 26 in 33 this term. If we move for Núñez again in the summer, it is likely that we will face stiff competition for his signature, with Arsenal and Napoli also tracking the forward. However, we should go all out to convince him to join us as we look to continue our pursuit for Champions League football.