West Ham United had a significant upsurge under Slaven Bilic back in 2015-16 but failed to maintain that form ever since despite spending heftily in the market in recent years. They have a string of top names in their squad but somehow lack the balance and quality to clash heads with the ‘big six’.
The Hammers have instead struggled to retain their top-flight status and still need massive uplift even after the appointment of veteran Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager. Doubts over Marko Arnautovic’s future in East London might force the Irons to explore the market for further attacking reinforcements. West Ham United have been linked with him, and a £26m asking fee for Inter flop Gabriel Barbosa should be considered despite a probable bidding war from fellow league counterparts Everton and London rivals Crystal Palace.
Barbosa, commonly known as Gabigol, was raised through the prestigious academy ranks of Santos and earned massive attention across the globe while representing Brazil in various youth ranks before making his senior debut a couple of years back. His flamboyancy and playing traits earned him a ‘next Neymar’ label by the media which, however, went terribly wrong since a high-profile €29.5m switch to Inter Milan in summer of 2016.
The attacker rarely made it to the first team in his first European season and found the net once in 10 games across all competitions before being loaned out to Benfica. Things went from bad to worse in Portugal where he got only 165 minutes of playing time before returning to his boyhood side Santos in January on a one-year loan deal.
The familiar surroundings helped Gabigol to regain his confidence as well as goalscoring form netting 25 times in 50 appearances altogether. But his future at Internazionale is still in jeopardy as gaffer Luciano Spalletti does not fancy him in his first-team plan and the Selecao starlet would be thrown among the reserves upon completion of a successful loan stint in January.
Inter, too, wants to offload him on permanent terms over yet another uncertain temporary transfer and West Ham must step up their chase now having monitored his growth for the past few months. His physical traits and versatility would hand the Hammers the luxury of deploying him on the wings as well as in a central attacking role alongside fellow countryman Felipe Anderson who is making huge strides since completing a club-record £36m summer transfer from Lazio.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, meanwhile, has started only a couple of fixtures whereas Robert Snodgrass, Michail Antonio and youngster Grady Diangana failed to exhibit enough productivity in the attacking third. The likes of Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko remain long-term injury casualties whereas Andy Carroll, who although has returned from yet another frustrating injury spell, should not be relied upon for fitness doubts. Wrapping up a deal for Gabigol would bring in freshness, creativity and depth high up the pitch as the 22-year-old has ample time ahead of him to shine in European football.