Once again there appears to be a trend emerging in West Ham’s summer transfer window.
That is that the fans are growing frustrated at a lack of business despite the transfer window not officially opening until Saturday and it still being June. The season only ended around six weeks ago and our fans are already accusing the board of a lack of ambition because Everton have already spent £50m and we haven’t.
Because, if you weren’t already aware, Everton are the barometer for our ambition. If they’re spending money and we aren’t, it’s a full blown disgrace to everything this club stands for.
Anyway, that’s a small snippet of the way I feel about this summer already and how a lot of our fans are losing their patience about two months earlier than should be acceptable. There’ll be an article on that very soon, but only once I figure out how to word in a way that doesn’t offend my fellow West Ham fans.
There is one reported deal, however, that is beginning to frustrate me more than it perhaps should. Our interest in Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho is exciting from a fans’ perspective and certainly sticks two fingers up at those who continue to accuse the board of having no ambition.
Here is a 20-year-old striker who has been used as a back-up option for one of the best footballing teams in England, perhaps even Europe, and done it well.
Any Manchester City fan will tell you he’s not good enough to be a regular for them, which sounds a little harsh given his age, but is he good enough for us? Of course.
A deal worth a reported £25m has supposedly been agreed but at this stage, the buy-back clause Man City want included in the deal has got us baulking at what should already be a done deal.
Buy-back clauses are becoming more and more popular in football and are most commonly used by bigger clubs who can’t give their promising youngsters the necessarily first team opportunities to realise their potential.
Barcelona are one of the most notorious users of the buy-back clause due to the sheer volume of wonderkids coming through their world class youth system, but how often do they actually buy these players back?
Manchester City are reportedly demanding a buy-back clause to be included in Iheanacho’s contract because they have a feeling that he could develop in to a world class striker but, at this moment in time, they can’t give him the opportunities for him to become that player with them.
We want that buy-back clause to be in the region of £50m but obviously City aren’t happy with that and have requested it to be a lot smaller.
This is where my frustration starts. There are two ways we can look at this deal, both of which make sense to the clubs involved.
West Ham’s stance is that they don’t want to be forced in to selling Iheanacho back to City for a small profit if he is a success in east London. Man City, on the other hand, want to ensure they don’t have to make a loss of £25m to bring the Nigerian back to the Eithad should he develop in to a work class striker at West Ham.
Both fair arguments, there’s no denying that, but my feeling is that we are in absolutely no position to dictate such terms in a deal we so desperately need to get over the line.
We need a striker who can score goals in the Premier League and Iheanacho has proven he can do that. He has 12 Premier League goals and four assists in 46 appearances, which doesn’t sound like a great return but does when you consider 34 of those appearances have been as a substitute.
This is why we should be looking at Man City’s demands as a win-win situation for us.
Given that it is rare that clubs exercise the buy-back clauses they include in departing players’ contracts, there is absolutely no guarantee City will do so in the future. Additionally, if they do decide they want to sign him back in a couple of years time, it will mean that the striker has absolutely smashed it in claret and blue, potentially helping the club finishing in the top six or eight with his goals.
If the latter does happen then the club would be in a fantastic position to take a small profit from selling the player back and then using that money to replace him with a similar talent. You’d think that, if City would ever want him back, it would mean we’re in a solid position to attract better players than we currently do thanks to Iheanacho’s contributions.
Of course, it could potentially mean losing a player for half his market value if he does indeed score 20+ goals a season and then is sold at a cut price, but that is not something we should be concerned with at this moment in time.
The club’s priority must be what we can achieve next season and that will depend on who we can sign this summer, not how much we can sell Iheanacho for in three or four seasons time.
This is why West Ham must accept Man City’s demands and get this one over the line sooner rather than later. If not, he’ll be scoring against for Leicester City next season. We all know that will happen.