West Ham finished last year’s campaign with the club faithful buzzing and already looking forward to the next season. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium was decked up and ready to welcome the Hammers and the team itself was shaping up nicely. And to fuel the excitement, Payet started off the Euros with a bang and it seemed West Ham had a contingent headed by General Payet ready to challenge the big guns of the Premier League. But things have not progressed since then, as West Ham have failed to land their primary target this summer- a top striker. Last season, more often than not they have been found wanting in the attacking department when the complete workload had to be shouldered by the creative midfielders hence eventually rendering West Ham short off the Champions League places.
On top of the failure to land a marquee signing, they have had to contend with the damaging injury to Aaron Cresswell. The left-back was one of the stars of last season and having signed the player to a long-term contract, their left-back situation was one less thing to worry about. But with Cresswell injured, West Ham have had to divide their transfer focus between a striker and a left-back.
And after a couple of rebuffs elsewhere, they have started talks with Palermo over the potential signing of their defender Achraf Lazaar. The left-back has been zeroed in on by Slaven Bilic as he deems the player fit to cover for the injured Cresswell.
Born in Casablanca, he moved to Italy with his parents in 2003. He joined Varese’s youth system at the age of fifteen, and made his senior debut with the team in the Serie B league in 2012, immediately emerging as one of the most interesting prospects from the small Lombardian team. In January 2014, he was signed by Serie B toppers Palermo, on loan with an option to make the move permanent by the end of the season, as an understudy to more experienced Fabio Daprelà, but immediately gained a starting spot thanks to his impressive performances. He was ultimately signed by Palermo on a permanent basis and added to the club’s 2014-15 roster.
The left-back has caught the eye since joining Palermo two years and has appeared in 73 matches for them, scoring 3 goals and assisting a further 6 goals. Lazaar is known for his dribbling abilities and goes in hard with his tackles. He will be a good outlet on the left-hand side and with his crossing ability will look to form a partnership with Andy Carroll.
The 24-year Moroccan will be entering the last year of his contract and the Italian club will look to avoid seeing him leave for free next season. Bilic is hoping to complete the transfer as soon as possible so that the player can join the camp with the season fast approaching its start.