The West Ham squad is currently in transition as new manager Manuel Pellegrini and his director of football Mario Husillos have assumed their positions, and look to improve the quality of players at their disposal. A few names have been linked, but a midfielder from FC Porto, and a defender from Bayer Leverkusen with Premier League experience may fit West Ham’s needs in more than one way. One thing that links these two targets is that that are good friends with our likely strikers next season
Herrera from FC Porto
Currently on international duty for Mexico, Hector Herrera patrols Porto’s midfield in Liga NOS. Herrera is reportedly great friends with West Ham striker Javier Hernandez, and could help solidify his stay in East London. Reports emerged that Hernandez was unhappy after being relegated to a bench position last season under David Moyes. It was also believed that Hernandez was looking for a move to MLS to be closer to his home in Mexico in the January transfer window.
The addition of Herrera would not only help settle Hernandez under new manager Pellegrini, but would also allow for more and better options in the midfield. Herrera, who played in 42 games in all competitions last season, scored 5 goals and added 7 assists. These totals eclipse the duo of Cheikhou Kouyate and Pedro Obiang for combined scoring last season.
Herrera hasn’t quite reached his lofty scouting potential in 2014. He was originally ranked 7/10 across the board on skills, and given a 10/10 for potential when scouted at age 22. Now 28 Herrera has settled into an advanced midfielder role. He can play central midfield well but also likes to jump into the attack and contribute offensively, too. For Herrera to fit in it would likely be the likes of Joao Mario not getting a new loan/permanent deal to East London. It would be about £10 million in savings for West Ham and could prove to be good business if Pellegrini believes a club youngster could potentially be filling that void soon…cough cough Marcus Browne.
Aleksandar Dragovic from Bayer Leverkusen
A defender most West Ham fans should be familiar with, Austrian international and Leicester City loanee Aleksandar Dragovic is good friends with Marco Arnautovic. The 27 year old defender played in 18 games in all competitions last season without registering a point (not the end of the world for a defender).
His greatest attribute, according to his scouring report, is his size matched with his ability to read play. Dragovic comfortably adjusts his defensive coverage and man marking, especially on dead ball plays making him an ideal late game defensive substitution. He is also very strong on aerial balls, noted for winning duels in the air and using his heading abilities to out let the ball.
With links to Manchester United and back to Inter Milan, it is crucial for West Ham to settle Arnautovic, their truculent front man, and have him commit to the team for the foreseeable future. The addition of this depth defender would likely see the end of Winston Reid at West Ham who one the whole is probably a better defender than Dragovic, but near constant injury problems have caused his value to drop in recent years.
Overall, I don’t love the idea of letting players dictate who is brought into the club but I can make an exception when the moves would be mutually beneficial. Dragovic and Herrera would make West Ham better, and both are not on onerous contracts (Herrera one more year, Dragovic three). If making these two smaller moves allows for West Ham to know their striker duo will be settled at the club they would be two moves of solid business for the club.