‘I’ve lost count of how many players we’ve bid for. We’ve bid for a lot. If I told you who, you would burst out laughing. Maybe I’ve tried and gone above our station.’
This is what David Moyes was quoted saying in a recent press conference.
Now since I’ve reported our transfer business this window and for the last 13 years, I have always got stick for naming so many targets with many saying they are guesses. This quote has given me some satisfaction because it confirms we do in fact bid for a lot of targets. What is especially pleasing is that many of these targets I mentioned at the start of the window are now starting to get reported and confirmed elsewhere.
At the start of the window, the priority was to sign a centre back. We targeted a number of players, like we always do, and Nayef Aguerd emerged as the number one target. Something that I covered very early on but we seemed to take an age to get it completed due to his international commitments. We didn’t want to put the deal through until we knew he had come through Morocco’s internationals unscathed.
In a cruel twist of fate but one West Ham fans are used to happening to star summer centre back signings (Simon Webster and Richard Hall being the prime examples), Aguerd injured his ankle in our preseason game at Ibrox against Rangers ruling the £30m man from Rennes out until just before this season’s unprecedented World Cup break.
The next move was to get keeper Alphonse Areola to agree to a permanent deal. The French international had to take a significant pay cut to join us from his parent club, money bags PSG. There was a concern when Newcastle showed an interest and we started to look at Burnley’s Nick Pope.
When Newcastle in fact signed Nick Pope, it worked out well for us because, despite some interest from Fulham, we could now have time to agree the correct personal terms for the keeper. We got the terms agreed thanks to Areola’s eagerness to join and he became our second signing.
Then we had the relatively quick and unreported signing of Flynn Downes. Whilst I had reported interest in the player, the actual move came very quickly and was a domino effect of Mark Warburton coming to the club. Warburton managed QPR in the Championship last year so knew the player, who is a massive West Ham fan.
David Sullivan was involved in a failed takeover bid of Birmingham City where he had promised Warburton the manager’s job. After this failed, Sullivan was quick to bring him in to replace the departing Stuart Pearce as coach.
Warburton’s daughter is high up in the agency that represents Flynn Downes and collectively they managed to persuade the player to turn down Crystal Palace to make the move at the last minute. The deal went through quickly as there were minimal negotiations with the agent as expected.
It then appeared to be a bit of a frustrating forward pursuit with the number one target Armando Broja’s club Chelsea proving challenging to negotiate with.
We then moved for a Rob Newman-inspired target in Gianluca Scamacca. The player had originally wished to stay in Italy with Milan giants AC and Inter tracking him, as well as the old lady Juventus. None of these offers materialised and we persuaded the 6’5 Italian international to make the move with a little help from former player Obiang who played for his club Sassuolo.
We were heavily after a player who had the same agent in Filip Kostic but sadly the Frankfurt player opted to join Juventus. At the same time we had the painful pursuit of a frustrating Jesse Lingard who was continuously ‘flirting’ with us on social media, wasting everyone’s time, before then taking a one-year contract and more money at Nottingham Forest.
We also had the strange Onana of Lille situation which we chased all summer, finally got a bid accepted and then whilst talking to the player’s agent we realised the whole package was financially very expensive for a player who isn’t fully developed, pulled the plug and he joined Everton instead.
We did, however, get one over Forest by agreeing to the signing of Maxwell Cornet from Burnley. The versatile left-sided player was on the brink of joining them before we matched the release clause of £18.5m and got the deal over the line. Before him we had looked at Danjuma, the former Bournemouth player, but Moyes raised concerns about that deal and ultimately pulled the plug.
Masuaku left on loan to Turkish side Besiktas and after being told he was fifth choice centre back, Issa Diop refused to play for us in our pre-season friends at Lens and our opening day game against Man City. This led David Moyes to go back to Fulham whose bid we had previously rejected and strike up a deal for the defender.
We finally got our left back signing when we agreed the permanent deal for £13 plus £2m add ons for Chelsea’s Italian international Emerson. He completed his four year move with an option of an additional year and comes with lots of winning experience.
At the time of writing, we are in talks with a former Lyon team mate of Emerson’s, Paqueta. The Brazilian international attacking midfielder is highly rated and someone we have monitored all summer as we first reported on our patreon at the start of August. There have been a number of clubs interested in him and we are close to agreeing a deal. This deal could break our club record spend and could be a sensational signing.
At the same time we are monitoring Hans Vanaken who is club Brugge’s captain. A 6’5 attacking midfielder. He is said to be very keen on the move but the two clubs’ valuations are a long way apart.
Another player who we are in talks with, and have been since he became a free agent, is Moyes favourite Adnan Januzaj. Moyes gave him his debut at Manchester United and also took him to Sunderland with him. The player has been in London looking to secure the deal.
Finally, since before signing Emerson, we had been reporting our constant dialogue with Chelsea over a number of their players. Broja is obviously one of them but Gallagher is another that we really like. Many clubs are interested in him with Crystal Palace, where he was on loan last year, said to be front runners if the player becomes available but we are also very keen. There are other Chelsea players too as well as players at Arsenal and Manchester United.
I am writing this as we are flying back from our 3-0 win against Viborg. Things can change in a short space of time but this looks like being a very good window for us.
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