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Transfer Assessment: West Ham

West Ham Sep 3, 2014
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West Ham fan's fundraiser

The Toe Poke Sep 2, 2014
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 Posted by Peter Thorne
Sep 3, 2014

How did West Ham do in the window?

A look at some of football's biggest transfers during the 2014 summer transfer window.

Ins and Outs

Players in: Enner Valencia (Pachuca, £12m), Cheikhou Kouyate (Anderlecht, undisclosed), Mauro Zarate (Velez Sarsfield, undisclosed), Aaron Cresswell (Ipswich, £3.75m), Diego Poyet (Charlton, compensation fee), Alex Song (Barcelona, loan), Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal, loan), Diafra Sakho (Metz, undisclosed), Morgan Amalfitano (Marseille, undisclosed)

Players out: Joe Cole (Aston Villa, free), Jack Collison, Alou Diarra, George McCartney (all released), Jordan Spence (MK Dons, free), Matt Taylor (Burnley, free)

Summing up the window

In the summer transfer window, West Ham made a concerted effort to try to beef up the squad as well as solve some of the problems inherent from the 2013-14 season; credit needs to be given to the board for trying to move the club forward. Whether they have gone for the best options in some areas, though, is open to question: The signings of Cheikhou Kouyate and Alex Song are obviously a statement of intent, but up front and barring numbers available, the club look no further forward than they were a year ago.

Inevitably, the budget currently available for a mid-table Premier League club means there may well be some hits and some misses, but there's a nagging feeling that sometimes the club overspend on some individuals when a cheaper option might be available. Overall though this looks a better window than in recent times and it looks a stronger if young Diego Poyet continues to impress and one of the forwards signed actually gets into double figures. 7/10.

Best piece of business?

I've said before that the capture of Cheikhou Kouyate from Anderlecht is an excellent piece of business. Kouyate was well-fancied by several bigger clubs and let's not forget the player could have been in the Champions League had he stayed with the Belgian champions. What's more, the Senegalese international looks a Premiership natural: a big but mobile tackler with good experience in the center of defence as well as midfield. Comparisons with Patrick Viera are already being made and Sam Allardyce has been glowing in his praise of how well the player has settled into the Premier league. Kouyate is apparently thoroughly enjoying his time at Upton Park and is a major asset to West Ham -- already set to be a fan favourite -- but is also a player whose worth can only continue to grow. The late signing of Alex Song may rival the signature of Kouyate if Song can prove he has the right attitude for what may be a mixed season.

Worst piece of business?

It would seem a little harsh to come crashing down on someone this early in the campaign, but doubts persist over the shrewdness of bringing in a player like Enner Valencia to a club the size of West Ham. At 12 million pounds, the Hammers really need a player like this to hit the ground running, and the difficulty in absorbing a player with experience of playing only in Ecuador and Mexico into the rough and tumble of the East End -- let alone the Premier League -- would test the best coaching team. I'm also wary of that ugly head that rears every four years of "World Cup sensation"; this may apply if the player comes from one of the top nations, but for a country getting into the round of 16 before exiting, this is really no more than four matches to make an impression and there have been an alarming number of so-called World Cup success stories that have ended in heartache a year later. For a club that signed Gary Breen after the 2002 World Cup and were rewarded with relegation in 2003, the portents are obvious.

Is Enner Valencia going to come good or become another World Cup flop?

What remaining issues are there?

A cup exit at the hands of Sheffield United would suggest that some of Big Sam's second string isn't quite as good as he may have hoped, but it would probably be unrealistic to keep signing strikers in the hope that one may turn out to be the new Frank McAvennie. Nevertheless when two discarded forwards from last season are first on the team sheet this, what is everyone to think? Other than the perennial striking issues, concerns would probably only really exist over a long-term injury to one of the centre-backs, while experienced cover in the middle of the defence wouldn't go amiss.

Who can help in January?

The days when average football fans had a wish list of players they knew and wanted to see at their club are long gone. It's a global game now, and who knows what players lurk in the African, Japanese or South American leagues who could do a job in the Premier League? Being a big fan of bringing through good English players who have found themselves sidelined in a bloated Champions League squad, though, and believing West Ham could do with a versatile defender with a lot to prove, I would have liked to have seen a bid for Manchester City's Micah Richards, but a last-minute loan deal means the player will be in Fiorentina for the season. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that it's this type of player the Hammers should be tracking in the future.

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