Haller joins a long list of failed forward signings

          Analysis of decade of striker mishaps at West Ham

          2021/01/12 18:10
          Connor Andrews

          After a decade of trying and failing with a string of underwhelming expensive strikers, West Ham somehow managed to bag one of Europe’s hottest properties in the summer of 2019, Eintracht Frankfurt’s high scoring and increasingly dominant Sébastien Haller.

          Since Gold and Sullivan’s purchase of the club at the start of 2010, their goal-scoring purchases have been largely a disaster so, despite an eye-watering fee, Haller looked like a full stop on years of failings, going that extra distance to fork out £45 million on a potential elite-level forward.

          However, 18 months later, and completely out of nowhere, Haller’s exit was sealed, West Ham cutting their losses, recovering half of what they paid for the French-born Ivory Coast international who debuted for Ajax at the weekend.

          Gold and Sullivan have forked out an estimated £360 million on forwards since their purchase of the club in 2010, and in that time Mark Noble is the club’s top scorer on 45 goals.

          So with that in mind, Playmaker had to take the opportunity laid out in front of us, and run down a shocking list of attacking purchases from the London club.

          The Top 10

          £45 million Sebastien Haller actually finished as West Ham’s top scorer in all competitions during his spell at the club with 14 goals, but with only 10 of them coming in the league, West Ham definitely didn’t get what Eintracht Frankfurt promised. And with his strike partner from that run to the Europa League semis, Luka Jovic, doing just as badly as Real Madrid, the German club must be laughing.

          ©FC Porto
          £34 million Felipe Anderson was one of Serie A’s hot properties alongside Paulo Dybala in 2014/15, but with Dybala hitting new heights at Juventus, scouts were clearly fearful of Anderson’s inconsistency and it took a big offer for West Ham to dislodge him from Lazio’s grasp. Currently on loan at Porto and not pulling up any trees, West Ham might be left to wait for a big offer from a non-European side to help cut their losses.

          £22 million Andre Ayew was wanted by a few Premier League sides but failed to show he was really a top-half player. Coming off the back of an excellent season for Swansea last time out, Ayew has shown he’s got something to offer Premier League sides, but he was never a big money starting centre forward for a team with European aspirations.

          £20 million Marko Arnautovic is one of the few names on this list who was a relative success, and West Ham actually made a profit on the striker when he demanded a move to Shanghai SIPG in 2019 after 24 goals in 67 games. West Ham would have happily held on to the Austrian, a complete rarity on this list.

          £19 million Jarrod Bowen was absolutely exceptional in the Championship with Hull City, but we’ve only seen glimpses so far in the Premier League, and he’ll net to start showing them more regularly as he enters his mid-20s and needs to justify the price tag.

          £16 million Javier Hernandez was maybe quite cost-effective with 18 goals in 65 games, but West Ham never got the player who hit fine form for Bayer Leverkusen after being sold by Manchester United.

          ©Getty / Mark Runnacles
          £15 million Andy Carroll is the most successful striker on this list when it comes to goals alone, with his 35 only behind Michail Antonio for players signed during this era. But Carroll did manage that in a far larger seven injury-hit seasons. When he was fit, he was far better than the lifeless Newcastle player we’re seeing at the moment, but all-in-all it wasn’t enough.

          £13 million Enner Valencia managed just nine goals in 47 games after arriving from Mexican side Pachuca showing the punt on an unknown quantity really didn’t pay off.

          £9 million Jordan Hugill is one of many Championship signings by West Ham, but the likes of Bowen and Said Benrahama will sorely be hoping they don’t go the same way after the striker managed zero goals in three games before eventually being shipped out to Norwich

          ©West Ham
          £8 million Albian Ajeti arrived from Basel in 2019 and the Albanian striker managed a grand total of zero goals in 12 games before being shipped off to Celtic. Don’t’ worry, you’re certainly not alone if you’ve never heard of him before.

          It’s a rather underwhelming list that in fact keeps going on much longer than this, well over the £300 million mark, and it’s symptomatic of West Ham’s underwhelming showings since returning to the Premier League in 2012.

          The one year of pure joy did come in 2015/16 when Slaven Bilic led his side to a seventh-placed finish on the back of an all-time season from Dimitri Payet, with the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio, and now Tomáš Souček all putting in decent tribute acts since.

          There was plenty of fear that a team without personalty wandering towards the relegation zone may well have their descent accelerated by incoming David Moyes, but so far the opposite has happened, and for once the Hammers look like they’re on the up. 

          Should things get difficult once more though, West Ham fans need to pray that if they do dip back into the transfer market it’s for a midfielder, or at worst a winger, as the reputation the London Stadium has earnt as a graveyard for strikers doesn’t look like going away any time soon.

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