There is no lack of excitement from West Ham fans ahead of the start of the new Premier League campaign. With the brilliant Slaven Bilic at the helm, they will feel great things are possible. They achieved a top 7 finish for the first time since 2001-02, a record points tally in the Premier League era. The East London club are blessed with one of the best players in the league whose stock rose even higher at Euro 16. Last but not the least, The Hammers’ have a new home in the 55k capacity Olympic Stadium putting an end to their more than 100-year stay at the historic Boleyn Ground. If the Hammers can beat Astra Giurgiu in the Europa League playoffs, they will also have Europa League next season adding more value to the club.
It would be a historic season for West Ham this time around. If Slaven Bilic can play his cards right, the Hammers can make their name among the giants of English football in coming years. In his maiden season in English football, Bilic took the side very close to a top-four finish. The Croatian bolstered his squad massively this summer and it won’t be a surprise if we get to see the Hammers in Champions League next season ahead of the big boys of England.
Andre Ayew – Swansea, £20.5m
Manuel Lanzini – Al Jazira Club, £9.4m
Arthur Masuaku – Olympiakos, £6m
Toni Martinez – Valencia, £2.25m
Havard Nordtveit – Borussia Monchengladbach, free
Sofiane Feghouli – Valencia, free
Gokhan Tore, Besiktas, loan
Domingos Quina – Chelsea, free
Ashley Fletcher – Manchester United, free
James Tomkins – Crystal Palace, £10m
Stephen Hendrie – Blackburn, loan
Elliott Lee – Barnsley, free
Jordan Brown – Hannover, free
George Dobson – Walsall, loan
Kyle Knoyle – Wigan, loan
Joey O’Brien – released
Nathan Mavila – released
Leo Chambers – released
Amos Nasha – released
Josh Cullen – Bradford, loan
Josh Pask – Gillingham, loan
Lewis Page – Coventry, loan
Fees Courtesy- Sky Sports
How have West Ham fared in the transfer market?
In one word, exceptional. However, the Hammers still need to complete a few more deals before the transfer window ends. The first business they did was to sign Manual Lanzini on a permanent deal. He was a big success at the club last season on loan from Al Jazira. Bilic proved that he is master of the transfer market with the free transfers for Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordtveit. The two players made their names in Spain and Germany over the years and adds a lot of quality to the West Ham team.
Arthur Masuaku was another good addition from Olympiakos who can fill in the void of Cresswell in the left-back position until the Englishman returns from injury. Gokhan Tore, on loan, was another addition of true quality. Deals for Domingos Quina, Ashley Fletcher and Toni Martinez prove West Ham’s intent for a solid future of the club.
West Ham had been linked with plenty of top European forwards like Batshuayi, Lacazette, Ben Yedder and many more during the course of the summer but had only disappointment in their pursuit for a quality number nine. Andre Ayew was brought in from Swansea on a club record £20.5m and it seems like Bilic sees the former African Player of the Year as a centre-forward but West Ham should have moved for an out and out number nine, not a makeshift forward. It would be foolish to say that Ayew is not a solid addition but West Ham playing him as a forward does not make much sense.
Slaven Bilic will need some time to find out his strongest starting XI. If West Ham can make it to the Europa League, the plethora of options available for selection will come in handy or else there is a chance that having too many players in the same position will diminish the morale of the players. Bilic can opt for both 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations and has to find out the best chemistry himself. With the squad West Ham right now, none of the players apart from Payet, Cresswell (when fit) and Feghouli are assured starters. The competition in the team will help each and every individual to deliver their best.
Expectations and predictions
Premier League has come to such a point that predicting anything is an impossible job. However, with a quality manager and a quality team, West Ham are expected to challenge for a top-four finish this season. With the squad depth West Ham have, Bilic should realistically target long runs in domestic Cup competitions and in the Europa League if the Hammers can qualify for it.