Sam Allardyce has indicated that affordability will be the key factor in West Ham’s transfer dealings this summer, with the club having some money available to strengthen a squad that is on track to finish in the top half of the Premier League standings this season.
Although a left-back and another central defender would be welcome additions at Upton Park, it is in attack where reinforcements are most required.
Andy Carroll appears to still be the number one target and there are certainly reasons to believe West Ham could have finished even higher this season if the Liverpool loanee had not missed two months of action with injury.
The Hammers have won a higher percentage and lost a lower percentage of fixtures this season with Carroll available for selection.
But it remains a somewhat mysterious subject as to whether a clause is already in place to make the loan switch permanent. If not, West Ham may not be prepared to blow what could be their entire budget on the striker, when the same money could acquire up to three new faces.
Instead, a viable alternative may prove to be Celtic’s Gary Hooper, who could be available for a third of the price of Carroll.
Norwich were constantly knocked back in their chase of Hooper in January, but the 24-year-old now only has one year remaining on his Celtic contract, which may mean the Scottish champions are more willing to negotiate with interested parties.
QPR are thought to be prepared to pay £6m, but their relegation from the Premier League would surely put them at a significant disadvantage.
The one question West Ham may have to ask themselves over Hooper is whether he would be a natural fit into their current formation of a lone striker.
His ability in the air and hold-up play are two of his weaker striking characteristics and it would seem that he would be better suited to playing as part of an attacking duo on the shoulder of the last man.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.