Two Linked Targets West Ham Should Buy

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.

Should West Ham Turn To Germany For New Keeper?

Fabianski in, Adrian out? It seems likely, but where should West Ham look to find a possible starting keeper to challenge Lukasz Fabianski?

Following the solid signing of Bernd Leno from Bayern Leverkusen by Arsenal, West Ham should follow suit and try to find a young, enigmatic keeper from the Bundesliga. With the rising fee’s in world football it wouldn’t come cheap, but West Ham need to invest in a keeper who can command a back line and be decisive on balls into his box.

Timo Horn – My current pick for West Ham, Horn is coming off of a disappointing season with Koln FC. Horn matched his teams disappointing performances, shipping 2.05 goals per game. Why is this enticing for West Ham? Because Koln finished last in the Bundesliga and the team will likely listen to offers on players who can help recuperate the losses from relegation. Horn who has been a solid keeper throughout his career and heavily scouted as a youngster, had a terrible side in front of him this season and should be motivated to battle with the likes of Fabianski for the number one job to reassert himself as a young, elite keeper.

Lukas Hradecky – This may be many West Ham supporters’ pick for a Bundesliga keeper West Ham should sign, and for good reason! Hradecky has a solid season for Eintracht Frankfurt FC in the Bundesliga, who finished 8th overall in the league table. His goals per game ration is at 1.3, mush lower than Horn’s, and he kept 7 clean sheets this season. He is currently 27 years of age and does not appear to be trending down just yet. As we know keepers can develop later and have a longer lifespan on their careers, so Hradecky could be a good shout and fit for West Ham.

Jan Sommer – A distant third in this race would be Switzerland international Jan Sommer, who is currently in the World Cup and performing well for his home nation. Sommer posted similar stats to Hradecky – 7 clean sheets and a goals per game of 1.4. He is 29, so the most senior of the bunch, but has the quality to be a top keeper for some years to come. Borussia Monchengladbach, his current team, finished a respectable 9th last season, and would require a solid fee to move on from their keeper.

West Ham can either get the proven thing in Hradecky or Sommer, or opt for a bit of a cheaper project with Horn. Either way, should Adrian leave the club the options are there at keeper alongside Fabianski. As well, many are pushing for youngster and U-21 Keeper Nathan Trott to make his first team appearance this season. He is a very exciting keeper as he has performed well and has featured in the England youth squads throughout his development. At 19, what Trott needs before assuming the throne at West Ham is loan time to develop with first team minutes either in the channels of English professional football.

With the team in flux under Manuel Pellegrini, and the squad in it’s first year of a massive overhaul, the keeper position is a key factor in team success. Fabianski is a solid and safe option, but who will be the long term option>

 

Should West Ham Stay Up, These Are The Three Positions They Need To Strengthen

With a defensive minded manager, and five defenders on the pitch West Ham still managed to allow multiple goals from set pieces and defensive meltdowns. It seems that tactics, training, and formation are not the issue so it clearly is the quality of players. Swansea’s offensive masterclass was merely a microcosm of the player woes West Ham have had to deal with all year.

Goalkeeper

Adrian earned his time in net over Joe Hart this season. Taking his one opportunity against Manchester City, Adrian provided a performance that gave his defenders confidence. Slowly but surely this has faded since then.

As a Cup keeper on a team with depth and skill to challenge for both League Cup and FA Cup, Adrian would thrive. He would get plenty of game action early in these tournaments, and would then swap game time for game intensity.

Of course, the threat of a quality keeper is always important to keep your starter sharp and looking over his shoulder as well. Adrian could provide that in spades… if his pride would allow it.

A possible suitor as a new starter? There are two trains of thought: a veteran who can take the reigns and settle the squad with his experience (a la Begovic). Maybe Ben Foster of likely relegated West Brom or Fraser Forster of Southampton- both are great shot stoppers with Premier League experience.

Or, a young up-and-comer who is playing to legitimize there career. Should Stoke City get relegated West Ham should go all in on Jack Butland. He will have World Cup experience and is a class player. He can command a backline and is brace when coming out. That would be a next level signing for West Ham.

*honourable mention: Neil Etheridge of Cardiff City

Center back

West Ham are in desperate need of a stud on their backline. Angelo Ogbonna has been a revelation for Moyes but if he is West Ham’s best defender they will struggle to move up the table.

Highly touted free agent Stefan de Vrij of Lazio would be other worldly. He is a Dutch international, and a breakout star of Serie A. He would walk into West Ham’s team and add legitimacy too.

Another player who would challenge to start for the team would be Ahmed Hegazi of West Brom. Another player plucked from the corpse of a relegated team, Hegazi is a hard-nosed defender who man marks really well.

Defensive Midfield

The most predictable of the three needed players, the quarterback of the team has been missing. An every game player who control the transition between offence and defence is in dire need.

Whether it is William Carvalho or Leander Dendoncker, both will be playing in the World Cup and would bring invaluable experience to the team. A strong defensive midfielder relieves the defence while releasing the offence simultaneously.

Look at the top Premier League teams: Chelsea have Kante, Manchester United have Matic, Liverpool have Henderson, Manchester City have Fernandinho. They may not all play the specific CDM role, but they provide the services of a two-way midfielder.

The biggest If with all of these needs is IF West Ham stays up. It’ll take a remarkable finish to the season for the Hammers to remain. If they do, it should be a summer with tonnes of movement.

Valentine’s Day Romance: West Ham’s Striker Duo Best In the Prem

Despite there only being one game with Marko Arnautovic and Chicharito playing as strikers together, West Ham can boast the greatest striker duo in the league. Now for the caveats on that brash statement:

  • Both players are center forwards
  • Both play at the same time, as a unit
  • Outside of wingbacks and attacking midfielders, they are the only out and out attackers on the pitch

With exceptions likes these you can rule out Liverpool’s Firmino and Salah, Manchester City’s Aguero and Sterling, Tottenham’s Kane and Son, and whoever Jose Mourinho decides to put along side Lukaku to make up for his first touch. West Ham play two out and out strikers, no other team can boast the goals and points that the diamond formation with a double tip get for the Hammers.

Both Arnautovic and Chicharito have seven goals this season, with both players missing considerable time from injuries. Arnautovic’s goals per minute, and on-pitch effectiveness surpasses everyone’s favorite contender for “best player outside the top-6” Wilfred Zaha, as well. Not to mention the big Austrian also has three assists on the year.

For Chicharito, he is the archetypal fox in the box. Originally threatened by the presence of Arnautovic in a new center forward role, Chicharito was losing game time to him due to fitness. Now with Lanzini injured and Chicharito subbed back in, the duo was able to capture lightning in a bottle and work as a team, rather than rivals for the striker position.

Lazini’s return wont hurt the duo now either, it seems. He is the sparkplug for offence, and stopgap Joao Mario has done well in his absence to feed to newfound double headed monster. With a fully fit Lanzini there is no team selection predicament either, everyone in midfield will step back, with Kouyate likely on the bench, and Lanzini will act as the point man for Arnie and Little Pea.

West Ham are top ten in goals and crosses in the Prem, simple stats to see how the team functions with two up top. Possession down the wing and plentiful crosses into the box by either Cresswell, who has five assists, Masuaku, who has two, or apparently Michail Antonio who danced Watford’s Jaanmat last week for a remarkable assist as a left wingback. Not to mention Lanzini who can thread or cross balls in the midfield for goals too! It is a simple system but it works, and its working better now because of the talent on the end of the ball.

With Andy Carroll done for the season, Andre Ayew sold to Swansea, and Toni Martinez out on loan, the only striker option that remains is recruit Jordan Hugill. With him cutting his teeth in the Premier League in a bench substitute role, it will be the Mexican and the Austrian, an unlikely love story, continuously paired together to maintain and retain the best striker duo in the Premier League.

Come On You Irons
-Adam

Next Level West Ham: Who Ranks As It Stands Now?

We all know the promise from the board, that West Ham United will be a next level club signing next level players. Two years on, that promise seems to be far from the truth especially with another disappointing transfer window passing. But lets look at the squad as it stands now – take out injuries, and depth, and this team could have some foundation pieces to being a Premier League Next Level Squad.

So what is the easiest way to show the players (in my humble opinion) that are next level now? A basic player list of course! Ranking from: NoYes, Potential.

Players:

Joe Hart: No
Adrian: No
Zabaleta: No 
(not any more)
Byram: No
Collins: No
Reid: No
Ogbonna: No
Fonte: No
Rice: Potential
Cresswell: No
Evra: No
Masuaku: Potential
Obiang: No
Kouyate: No
Noble: Yes*
Mario: Yes
Lanzini: Yes
Antonio: Potential
Arnautovic: Yes
Chicharito: Yes
Hugill: No
Carroll: No
*club captain, team wins with him in the lineup, general on the pitch

So the tally is 5 next level players including Mark Noble, and three potential players that could turn into next level players, Declan Rice, Arthur Masuaku, and Michail Antonio.

West Ham is short in defensive next level players and non-attacking midfielders. Which brings forward a truth about the club – they need to invest in a defensive stud at centreback. The rumors of Alfie Mawson from Swansea City would have added another potential Next Level player to the team list, but he is not a solidified elite player.

West Ham should be looking to make a splash this off season to announce their club as a European fixture and Champions League combatant. This can be done on the cheap, as the club seems to prefer, with players available on expiring contracts.

For midfield Jack Wilshere should be a target. Yet to sign with Arsenal, Wilshere is a lifelong supporter of West Ham and at 26 years of age, has time to develop his game into that elite play maker. He has been studying under Mesut Ozil at Arsenal, a player whose vision allows him to take the ball from a defensive position and in a matter of seconds transfer it into an offensive attack. Wilshere in would be a signalling of the guard changing for West Ham.

Joao Moutinho of AS Monaco in Ligue 1 would be another Midfield target. Advanced in age, Moutinho is 31, but with that brings a wealth of winning experience. He has Champions League experience, and is a winner having taken trophies for Europa League, European Championship, Portuguese League (x3), Portuguese Super Cup, and the French League cup. The man is a winner, and would be a good, veteran player that would fit in alongside Joao Mario if he was signed on a permanent.

SS Lazio in Serie A in Italy has Stefan de Vrij, Dutch international and extremely high rated centreback on an expiring deal. Looking to get paid, West Ham could lure him away from his current team who sits fifth in the league with a bog money deal. It would be a risk, but it could pay dividends.

There are plenty of options for West Ham to get those next level players we were all promised, only time will tell if it happens.

Agree or disagree with my player rankings? let me know!

Come On You Irons!
-Adam

Kick In The Ass Needed, Kick To The Head Signed – Welcome Evra!

Despite the overwhelming belief that the powers that be in the West Ham board need a kick in the ass, West Ham opt for a kick to the head and sign Patrice Evra. The 36 year old leftback joins West Ham on a short term contract after being released by Marseille following an incident with a fan altercation.

Patrice Evra will be among friends at West Ham starting with his manager, David Moyes. Evra played for Manchester United during the Moyes reign, where he was first introduced to the Scottish manager. As well, Chicharito played under Moyes at Man U and will link up again with Evra. The French leftback has also played with Angelo Ogbonna at Juventus, hopefully adding some cohesion to an often confused back line for the Hammers.

The signing is a bit confusing for West Ham supporters. The club failed to make any defensive midfield impact signings during the January transfer window, which is their largest area of need. The Evra signing does not address this issue, and also goes against a policy that David Sullivan himself put in place, stating the club will look for younger options, specifying no players over 32.

For Evra, he will fill a gap at the club. With Arthur Masuaku serving a 6-game ban for spitting against Wigan, Aaron Cresswell is the only leftback option at the club currently. Evra can offer respite for Cresswell, and hopefully press pace up the wing in an advanced wingback role.

Regardless of his passed incidents, and colourful attitude off the pitch, if he can help West Ham secure more points then I am all for the signing. This should not, however, be the end for West Ham free agent signings. Heavily short on midfield coverage, West Ham should look to the likes of former Bayern Munich, and more recently, Sunderland defensive midfielder Jan Kirchhoff who is a free agent. Coming off serious injury it is a low risk signing that could pay dividends.

West Ham surely need to beef up their midfield, and a few more free agents could help with that, despite it being the cheap, predictable route for the clubs owners.

Come On You Irons!

-Adam

Why Tony Henry Sacking Shows More Than a Guilty Conscience

West Ham United sack their Director of Scouting Tony Henry after his quotes about African players. I would assume everyone saw this coming, but it could lead to more Mayhem for David Moyes than it would see.

Henry’s comments were horribly constructed and shined a necessary light, outside of the grieving fan base for another pitiful transfer window gone by, on the ludicrous nature of West Ham’s upper management team. Whether he was not understood, or didn’t mean what he said, a director of scouting, who is in multiple countries watching players from across the globe should know how to formulate a sentence that doesn’t sound racist. Ironically, after the window passed, the “mayhem” caused by African players at West Ham, as said by Henry, does not compare to the insanity in the board room.

West Ham were quick to fire Henry after investigation on the incident was concluded. This is where things get interesting – put on your tinfoil hats. West Ham hired Moyes as manager to organize the squad and keep the team up. For the most part this has been a success, although the season is not over yet. Moyes, who has worked with Henry at Everton in the passed, was poised to strengthen his squad with the fine relationship between him and his scouting director.

After the firing of Henry, and the January transfer window that saw two first team players brought in for a side reeling from injuries, the writing could be on the wall for Manager Moyes.

The fan base on social media was hardly split when Moyes was appointed, shouting out that he was the cheap option, would bring boring football, and that he hasn’t been a solid manager since Everton. But, after a string of solid performances (in the Premier League), he seems to have the full support of the armchair pundits, myself included.

Moyes is essentially managing for a future in football. Should West Ham end their season an not be relegated, I believe he will have new life in his managerial career, anything higher than 17th and it is a lock. However, I now highly doubt that that future will be at West Ham. With his longtime business partner fired without a second thought, and a window that saw minimal effort in getting Moyes the players he wanted, the board of West Ham could be signalling that Moyes will only last this season at the club.

It makes sense insofar as believing the line that West Ham will be going to the ‘next level’ after leaving Upton Park for the Olympic Stadium. A defensive minded, grind-it-out manager isn’t really where the club want to be, so bringing in players that would suit that style for Moyes would, for the board, not be wise investments.

After his sacking from Watford this season, unexpectedly so, many would assume West Ham could make a move for Marco Silva as their next manager. I would support this, but that signing would need to come with a substantial budget over £50 million.

Alright, tinfoil hats off now.

Firing Tony Henry was the right thing to do for West Ham, and it opens up more opportunity for next level development. Could this void be filled with a director of football for the club? It would certainly be welcomed if it saw David Sullivan stepping down from the role of transfer negotiator!

COYI
-Adam