As Slaven Bilic gears up for the 2017/18 campaign there’s no secret that a new striker is high on his wishlist.
Having missed out on Carlos Bacca last summer and shown interest in the likes of Javier Hernandez, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jermain Defoe this time around, Bilic is clearly after a clinical finisher in the box, with not too much responsibility to get involved other than where it matters most.
Having missed out on the former Hammer and potentially losing ground in the race for their other top targets up front as Chelsea enter the race for Hernandez, we look at five alternatives from across the continent that could fit the bill.
Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla)
While Sevilla would no doubt demand a profit on the £9m they spent to snare the Frenchman from Toulouse last summer, Ben Yedder is not out of the question with regards to a potential transfer.
The 26-year-failed to nail down the regular starting berth he would have hoped for last season, starting just 20 league games. But while a return of 11 goals may seem modest his efficiency in front of goal was not to be sniffed at.
A conversion rate of 25% was very strong, with all of his goals coming from inside the box. A 52% shot accuracy is also very impressive, requiring just 56 touches per goal, and the pocket rocket is certainly very different to the options currently at Bilic’s disposal.
Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord)
An absolutely pivotal member of Gio van Bronckhorst’s Eredivisie champions last season, Feyenoord would be loathed to lose their star striker but he’s unlikely to be out of the Hammers’ price range.
Convincing the Dane to turn his back on Champions League football would probably be the most difficult task, but the lure of the Premier League is often too strong for players from the Dutch top-flight. Then there is the issue that many – but certainly not all – have failed to deliver after making the move from the Netherlands to England.
Jorgensen, however, has all the tools to be a success. He’s a big target to aim for but is by no means another Carroll – far less effective in the air but stronger in terms of finishing and bringing others into play.
Of an impressive 21 league goals last season only one came with his head, and only two from outside the box. A conversion rate of 21% and shot accuracy of 49% are all but identical to those of Chicharito (21% and 48% respectively), but he has the added bonus of providing for others too, registering an outstanding 11 assists.
Cenk Tosun (Besiktas)
While Bilic’s only signing from former charges Besiktas so far proved to be pretty disastrous (Gokhan Tore, we hardly knew ye) that shouldn’t deter him from testing the waters with a bid for another ex-student.
Turkish international Cenk has had to bide his time to become the main man for the Super Lig champions but he was certainly that last season. He, like Jorgensen, would need to be persuaded that Champions League football isn’t the be all and end all but the West Ham boss will be well aware of the 26-year-old’s ability in the box.
A total of 20 league goals last season all came from within 18-yards, with Cenk certainly falling under the bracket of a goal poacher.
He required just 46 touches per goal last season, boasting a 22% conversion rate and 46% shot accuracy. Meanwhile, with four headed goals and four with his weaker left foot, the Besiktas man is capable of finding the net in all manner of ways – as long as it’s from inside the box.
Gregorie Defrel (Sassuolo)
More versatile than the other options here, Frenchman Defrel enjoyed a very strong season with Sassuolo last time out despite the club failing to reach the same standards of the campaign previous.
The 26-year-old (there’s a theme here) has reportedly attracted the interest of Watford, but West Ham would be wise to rival their Premier League counterparts.
Defrel started as a centre forward more often than not last season but can also be utilised behind the main striker or from a wide berth. Across those roles he netted a relatively modest 12 goals last season, but needed very few chances to score.
Indeed, of all those to reach double figures in Serie A, the Sassuolo forward boasted the best conversion rate (28%), while testing the keeper with over half of his attempts (51%). Just one of his strikes came from outside the box, and with the Hammers in search of goals from wide as well as through the centre, Defrel could be a very astute pick-up.
Rijad Bajic (Konyaspor)
Who? OK, so Bajic is a wildcard option, but if Bilic does keep up to date with his former leagues of employment he will no doubt have noticed the rapid progress of the youngster.
At 23 the Konyaspor man arguably has the most potential to improve here, with his efforts in the Super Lig deservedly earning international recognition as Bosnia seek an heir to Edin Dzeko’s throne. If Bajic’s exploits in 2016/17 are anything to go by, he may well be that man.
In 32 league appearances – of which just 25 were starts – the forward bagged 17 goals from an incredibly modest shot tally. A 30% conversion rate is exceptional, regardless of a player’s age or the quality of the opposition, with a deadly left foot that also saw him register a superb 58% shot accuracy to boot.
With just 50 touches per goal and three goals from distance, you may not have heard of Bajic just yet but he was among the strongest finishers on the continent last season. Given his profile, any gamble may not be too costly for a player whose reputation could go through the roof before long.
Who should West Ham sign this season? Let us know in the comments below.