West Ham must move fast to avoid a battle with cash-rich Villa


The imminent arrival of Christian Benteke at Liverpool could start things off in this window’s striker merry-go-round, and with Aston Villa set to be flush with cash in the near future, rival clubs need to move fast.

One such side is West Ham. The Hammers were nearly held to a goalless draw by Maltese outfit Birkirkara on Thursday, but for a late set-piece effort from James Tomkins.

And with doubts around a number of their striking options the Irons are starting to look desperate for reinforcements.

With Andy Carroll seemingly glued to the treatment table, Mauro Zarate still out to prove his worth and Modibo Maiga looking like a fish out of water, the east London outfit have only Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia to rely on up top.

While it is important not to panic buy, Slaven Bilic could do far worse than looking to get ahead of the soon-to-be bulging pockets of their Midlands contemporaries now.

A bidding war for Charlie Austin looks likely with no fewer than six clubs in for him according to reports, and Villa could look to join the party in the near future.

Betting was suspended on any move for the former Swindon striker after reports suggested Newcastle were close to a deal, but nothing has yet come of that.

QPR have set an asking price of £15m on the 18-goal man, and while they wouldn’t have their own way even if West Ham went in now, they would avoid Tim Sherwood and Co gazumping them on a bid.

Nevertheless, while he does look to have all the credentials for another big year in the top flight, some will question whether the 26-year-old could be a one-season-wonder and is overpriced based on being English.

Whatever Bilic’s take on the merits of bringing Austin to Upton Park, his price isn’t likely to come down any time soon.

Other hitmen that West Ham have been linked with including Loic Remy (2/1 to move to the Boleyn) are likely to fall into the same target zone for Villa, with them out to fill a Benteke-sized hole in their forward line.

Mario Balotelli could find himself ousted at Anfield with another competitor for his spot set to arrive and is 6/1 to move to the capital, though whether he sees it as a drop down remains to be seen.

One target that could have West Ham out on their own in terms of Premier League suitors is Mattia Destro.

The Roma man was linked with moves to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United last season, and while they have died down a loan switch to the Boleyn Ground has gathered pace as the weeks have gone on.

Aston Villa may not have been linked with him, but with them in the market for a striker any hint of availability could draw them in.

All told there may be options for West Ham to bring in a much-needed striker, but unless they move fast they could have a big-hitting competitor on their hands.

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

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.