The 2019 summer transfer window looks set to be a period of intense forward planning for West Ham United – in the literal sense.
Having made steady improvements in both defence and midfield in terms of performances and personnel since last year, West Ham are now accelerating plans to resharpen the team’s cutting edge ahead of the 2019/20 Premier League season.
The Irons have already started the extensive retooling process – and their recruitment drive should ensure that we see a completely refreshed and rejigged Irons frontline on August 10th for West Ham’s first game of the new season against Manchester City at the London Stadium.
Keep up to date with the latest rumours and gossip on our Daily Transfer Update page here.
Underperformance driving the need for change
Last season, during a largely positive first campaign under the direction of new manager Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham secured their first Premier League top half finish since 2016.
In the goals for column, the Hammers registered a final total of 52 – and though their haul was their second highest in a single season since their return to England’s top flight in 2012, Irons fans were left feeling a little short changed by the club’s attacking players.
Just 38% (or 20) of the team’s goals were scored by the club’s forwards, and just one Hammers hitman hit double figures in the league for the season.
With barndoors and banjos across East London largely intact, West Ham scored 1 goal or less in a staggering 23 of their 38 Premier League matches in 2018/19.
In fact, West Ham failed to score in 37% of their league games overall last term – only relegated trio Fulham (39%) Cardiff City (45%) and Huddersfield (50%) failed to register more often than the Irons.
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On the way out
Austrian international Marko Arnautovic was West Ham’s most effective striker by some distance last season, and the 30-year old was the only Hammers’ forward to hit double figures in the league in 2018/19 – though he just about dragged himself past the threshold with his last day strike at Watford in May.
Arnautovic also topped the Irons’ charts for average shots attempted per game with 2.2 – and while that figure blew his clubmates away, it placed the Austrian as low as 22nd for productivity among his Premier League peers.
Having completely jettisoned the cult-hero status he earned at the club by pushing for a move away, Arnautovic was eventually sold this summer (with Irons’ supporters unanimous blessing) to Shanghai SIPG in China for approximately £22m.
Beyond the enigmatic Arnautovic, West Ham’s other centre forwards last season were a piteous assortment of the impotent and incompetent.
Lucas Perez, who posted the best minutes per goal figures of any Hammers striker was sold back to Spain, while the perennially injured Andy Carroll was finally cut loose after another season of unavailability.
Having started just 14 times in the Premier League last term, the sporadically useful Mexican international Javier Chicharito Hernandez is also expected to leave sooner rather than later in search of more regular football, leaving 22-year old unknown quantity Xande Silva as the only recognized forward on the club’s books – a player who has scored 5 senior goals in his entire career.
Keep up to date with all the Premier League’s confirmed transfers in the summer transfer window with our regularly updated list here.
West Ham’s striker shortlist
The latest transfer rumours and reports suggest that West Ham are close to finalising a deal to sign Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez – though the 22-year old Uruguayan is likely to be the first of several attacking additions this summer.
Gomez, who is expected to cost in the region of £44.5m, scored 13 times for a Celta Vigo side that finished just one place clear of the drop zone last season, and although the highly-regarded striker felt short of Arnautovic’s minute per goal numbers in 2018/19, Gomez’ did slightly out-gun the Austrian in average shots per game stakes.
West Ham have also been linked with a move for Portuguese attacker Andre Silva, who spent last season on loan with Sevilla from AC Milan.
Like Gomez, Silva’s numerical output from last season compares favourably with Arnautovic’s, and at 23, the 33-times capped international has time and room to develop.
Bundesliga pair Sebastian Haller and Jean-Philippe Mateta of Frankfurt and Mainz respectively, are also rumoured to be West Ham targets, though interest in the French duo from elsewhere is thought to be high.
The Hammers look like missing out on long-term target Salomon Rondon however – the 29-year old Venezuelan international is reportedly ready to follow his former Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez to the Far East.
Nevertheless, any combination of signings from the list of West Ham’s other attacking targets would be a significant upgrade on players the Irons are so desperate to replace.
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