Will West Ham’s Slow Transfer Activity Gamble Return to Haunt Them?

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It’s a nervy moment at the Eden Arena in Prague, Czech Republic. The clock ticks into the first of five minutes of extra time. The scoreboard reads 1-1; the air is filled with palpable tension. Lucas Paqueta weighted through pass into the path of the onrushing Jarrod Bowen splits open Fiorentina’s backline.

The England international is away from his marker and sweetly strikes the ball, bouncing it off the onrushing Fiorentina goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Scenes of pure elation ensue amongst the travelling Claret and Blue army. The Hammers are the 2022/23 UEFA Europa Conference League winners, the club’s first major silverware since 1980, ending a 43-year-long trophy drought in the process.

That moment, two months ago, was supposed to herald a new dawn for West Ham United, the beginning of a new era. The jubilant scenes as David Moyes’ charges took to the streets of east London already feel like a distant memory.

Fans expected their team to rebuild and strengthen its core this summer in preparation for the UEFA Europa League and more Premier League action. Instead, there is an air of confusion –almost panic- at the Olympic Stadium heading into the new season.

Since that night in Prague, West Ham have since sanctioned the departure of Manuel Lanzini on a free transfer to boyhood club River Plate, Arthur Masuaku to Besiktas on a fee of around £1.8million, and captain Declan Rice to cross-city rivals Arsenal on a staggering £105 million fee.

The club is not short on funds; but they are short on something else – a clear-cut recruitment strategy. The friction between David Moyes and Tim Steidten, the new head of recruitment, hasn’t helped the situation either.

It saw West Ham lose out to Newcastle in signing Harvey Barnes from relegated Leicester City, a signing that had been in the works since April. Instead, the club has deployed a scattergun approach that has seen many players linked with potential moves to east London- none of which is yet to materialise.

It has not escaped watchful observers that West Ham are the only Premier League side yet to complete a signing so far. European glory aside, West Ham spent most of last season battling relegation and have Premier League outright odds of 10/1 to be relegated after the 2023/23 season.

The Hammers can’t afford another sluggish start to the season, as they won’t have Rice to paper over the cracks this time. To avoid sitting bottom of the log after game week three as it happened last term, reinforcements are needed – notably at the back and in the middle of the park.

At the back, a new centre-back is needed to provide competition for Kurt Zouma. In midfield, a replacement for Declan Rice in the defensive midfield is required and finding someone to provide cover for Soucek would be ideal. In attack, it is telling that Danny Ings, the player with the highest goal tally (eight) on the West Ham roster, spent the first half of the season at Aston Villa.

The joint scorers who started the season at Olympic Stadium, Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma, each managed six goals, outlining the need to sign a prolific finisher. It is little wonder then, that Moyes’ side (42) were outscored by relegated duo Leeds United (48) and Leicester City (51).

There is also the issue of picking a new team leader. Over the last year, the team has lost the leadership of both Rice and veteran defender Mark Noble. A new group of squad leaders will need to be appointed to help guide the club in a challenging season in Europe and the league.

Over to you, West Ham hierarchy, get your act together and give us a winning formula because, as it is, we are floundering in the transfer market as other rivals put together strong squads.

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