The 2020/21 season was an unequivocal success for the Hammers. A sixth-place finish in the Premier League, after a sluggish initial start, brought a tremendous amount of joy to the club’s loyal fanbase, who were also treated to some fine football at times under manager David Moyes. All of this leaves Moyes and United in an odd position heading into 2021/22 however: Where do they go from here?
Competing comes at a price
Without spending obscene amounts of money, it seems unlikely that West Ham can successfully break into the top four given the nature of the teams they are up against. The likes of Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs will all reinvest this summer, while Leicester City’s assault on the top four shows no sign of abating just yet. With this in mind, what do West Ham realistically have to do this summer to go one step better next year, or simply achieve a top-six finish again next season?
The key for the Hammers will surely be recruitment. While not being the most opulent of clubs, West Ham will certainly look to spend money and add quality where they can. With numerous names currently being linked to the club, it’s tricky to decisively predict who will be in their starting XI next season – but one man who looks pretty certain as things stand is midfielder Jesse Lingard.
The winger arrived at the Olympic Stadium on loan from Manchester United for the 2020/21 season, and impressed almost immediately, scoring two goals on his full debut for the club against Aston Villa. He would subsequently go on to add a further nine goals, as well as five assists in a campaign to remember. With Lingard regarded as surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, hope remains amongst the West Ham fanbase that their club can sign the England international on a permanent basis. The stumbling block appears to be related to the finances, with multiple sources claiming that West Ham cannot offer the kind of wages that the player would command.
Questions also remain over whether West Ham could afford the £30 million fee that Manchester United have put on Lingard’s head. One such solution could end up being the sale of creative attacking midfielder Manuel Lanzini, who may leave West ham this summer after four years at the club. Doing so would help raise funds for the likes of Lingard, as well as one or two others who we’ll now go onto discuss. Click here for the very best bets on football.
If there was one glaring weakness for West Ham last season, it was surely the lack of an out and out number nine at the sharp end of the pitch. The club fielded Michel Antonio in the striker position for much of the season, which worked out remarkably well – as the forward added 10 vital goals to West Ham’s Premier League tally. However, long-term, the Hammers won’t want to be solely reliant on Antonio for goals, as he is not a striker by trade, nor does he have the best of injury records.
One such solution for West Ham could come from across London, with Tammy Abraham possibly in search of a new club this summer. The Chelsea forward has been ostracised by new Blues manager Thomas Tuchel, with Timo Werner and Kai Havertz starting the vast majority of games. The Daily Mail reports that Chelsea could want as much as £25 million for Abraham, but he could be the missing piece of David Moyes’ puzzle.
If the West Ham owners are feeling particularly generous, expect the club to look at signing a new Centre-back – and possibly even a goalkeeper. While Angelo Ogbonna has been impressive at the heart of the defence, there is possibly a place up for grabs alongside him, with Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic mooted as a possible solution. Once again, this wouldn’t exactly be a cheap signing, with the Serbian set to cost in excess of £20 million, but it would allow the Hammers to assemble a backline of true quality.
Age could also become an issue for Moyes and West Ham over time, which is why the final position the club could assess is that of the goalkeeper. Current stopper, Lukasz Fabianski, is 36-years-old, which could prompt the club into looking at one or two long-term replacements. One such option is West Brom’s Sam Johnstone, who is set to play Championship football next season despite his obvious quality. If West Ham are willing to spend big on a keeper this summer, they can surely leverage the player’s desire to return to the Premier League and convince West Brom to sell their prised asset.
It would be incredibly bold of West Ham to spend as much as £80 million over the next few months, but don’t put it past the owners, who are ambitious and keen to ensure that their upcoming European foray isn’t merely a one-off.