How West Ham allowed striker obsession to spoil their summer
It was early May when David Sullivan started telling the world of his plans to spend over £20m bringing a top-class striker to West Ham in preparation of their move to the Olympic Stadium.
Over two months have passed and, despite links to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Carlos Tevez, Michy Batshuayi, Alexandre Lacazette, Carlos Bacca and Christian Benteke, they still haven’t signed one, with Sullivan’s bravado appearing premature and misguided.
Going public about his transfer window ambitions has created a number of problems, the most obvious being in weakening his negotiating position as rival teams know of his need to find a forward and willingness to pay a premium and can push up prices accordingly.
Any attackers targeted have the same advantage, realising how important the chairman considers them to the Irons’ chances of 2016-17 success – they are 8/1 to finish in the top four – and indeed, he made this more difficult for himself too by announcing that he offered Tevez £150,000-per-week.
The other issue with being so vocal about recruiting a striker and the wages available is the risk of unsettling the current squad. How might 2015-16’s star man, fan favourite and present highest earner Dimitri Payet feel about his employers’ determination to give a new addition more money?
And what about the front men at the club? Diafra Sakho, who has scored 15 goals in 38 Premier League starts for the east Londoners, is thought to have felt undervalued enough by the statements to submit a transfer request, while Sky Sports now report that he has refused to travel on a pre-season tour to Austria.
It also conditions supporters to judge this summer as a failure if they don’t land an world-renowned forward, whereas otherwise they might have been satisfied with an attack that were only outscored by three Premier League foes last term, and arrivals like Sofiane Feghouli, Gokhan Tore and Havard Nordtvelt.
They will also second guess whether anyone purchased between now and deadline day was one of Sullivan’s first choices or a desperate Plan Y or Z, as surely whoever was lined up was meant to be signed already, given that their first competitive game of the campaign is less than a fortnight away.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.