Italy striker could be perfect fit for Bilic’s West Ham

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With Andy Carroll continuing to struggle for fitness, Slaven Bilic may well start searching for a new target man this summer, and he couldn’t do much better than bringing in Stefano Okaka.

The imposing 26-year-old has been in inspired form for Anderlecht this season, helping Les Mauves et Blancs reach the last 16 of the Europa League and mount a title challenge in the Belgian Pro League.

However, the well-travelled forward could be tempted by the lure of Premier League football, and already has experience of the English top-flight following a loan spell at Fulham in 2010.

A physical, effective target man who dominates in the air, Okaka could prove the perfect man to get on the end of those superb Dimitri Payet set-pieces, and hold the ball up for the Hammers’ flair players.

Valued by Transfermarkt at £4.88m, the Umbria native would certainly fall within the Irons’ budget.

And, following his 16 goals for Anderlecht this season, including a superb performance in the club’s 2-1 win over Tottenham in October, the Hammers would be wise to make any approach quickly, before their Premier League rivals join the race.

Incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was the man who gave Okaka his Italy debut in 2014, so interest from Stamford Bridge could emerge.

However, it’s the Hammers’ mix of flair and physicality which would make their new Olympic Stadium home the perfect fit for Okaka’s abilities.

West Ham are next in action on Saturday, as they head to the Hawthorns. The east London club are 11/10 to secure victory, with the Baggies 5/2 to record a first win in seven.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.