Goalkeeper was one of our strongest positions last year, with Adrian San Miguel securing his place in the first team for the second part of the season.
Adrian very rapidly became a fan favourite for his passion on and off the pitch; celebrating each goal like anyone else and tweeting messages commending the West Ham fans for their continuing support. But it is not only his love for West Ham that stole our hearts.
The fact that he ended runner-up in Hammer of the Year – despite only breaking into the side midway through the season – is testament to how well he performed between the sticks for us.
His performance against Chelsea was particularly memorable where he made a string of great saves, including West Ham’s save of the season against Oscar. Adrian could establish himself as one of our greatest ever ‘keepers if he can fulfil his potential.
Jussi Jaaskelainen is a more than capable deputy, despite his age. He was displaced last year without doing very much wrong and the majority of us are content with keep him as a back-up/mentor for Adrian. His experience is vital, but he is susceptible to the odd calamitous moment which means that an injury or suspension to Adrian is his most likely route back to number one.
Stephen Henderson, after failing to make an impact in the past few seasons, has been released and and has signed for Charlton Athletic, whereas promising Swiss youngster Raphael Spiegel has been sent to Crawley Town on loan to gain some first-team experience.
There has (understandably) been very little talk of new goalkeeping arrivals. Petr Cech and Diego Alves were mentioned but there was probably little to no substance to these rumours.
However, it emerged in the past couple of days that 21-year-old Southend stopper Daniel Bentley is interesting us. He is highly-rated, but I cannot judge myself as I have never seen him play. It seems that, unless we loan him straight back out, he could become a replica of the Henderson move.
There have been recent reports that West Ham has offered Winston Reid a new and improved lucrative deal to stay at the club.
Reid joined the Hammers in 2010 and has made almost 100 appearances for the club. His early jitters were soon ironed out and he has developed into one of the best players I have ever seen at the club. The New Zealand captain won player of the year in 2012/13 and will always be remembered for his winning goal against Millwall when we were in the Championship.
Reid is highly thought of by the manager, the board and especially the fans. In my personal opinion – if it happens – tying Reid down to a long-term contract will be the best bit of business we have done this summer. I would like to see James Tomkins start the season partnering Reid at the back. The academy graduate has always shown flashes of talent but never truly reached the level that he potentially could have.
Maybe he wouldn’t still be a West Ham player if he had? I think Tomkins has worked hard on his game and has proven himself as a very good option who can hold his own against some of the Premier League’s heavyweights.
James Collins is a slightly less reliable option. ‘Ginger Pele’ can range from impenetrable to calamitous slapstick defending. He does remain a decent replacement but he is ageing and we may want to look at younger alternatives who could be pushing Tomkins and Reid for a first team spot.
Leo Chambers is our promising young centre back who has joined the first team for pre-season and is currently in New Zealand with the rest of the squad. Although he is some way off being a Premier League starter, the signs are encouraging and he is highly regarded by the club.
New boys Cheikhou Kouyate and Diego Poyet can also fill in at centre back so we have plenty of cover in this department.
Although we have plenty of players who can play in this position, we are lacking strength in depth.
Sam Allardyce has revealed in an interview that West Ham may look into the possibility of signing a new centre back and preferably a left footed one. Reid and Tomkins could prove to be a formidable partnership for the next few years but, with Collins getting older and Chambers still very much a raw talent, we should look for a centre back with a reasonable amount of first team experience so that there is competition at the back.
Antonio Rudiger of Stuttgart has been touted as a possible £8m option for West Ham. Rudiger has impressed in the Bundesliga and has even earned himself an international appearance for Germany, despite only being 21. However, Armin Veh (Stuttgart manager) has ruled out the sale of the young star as he is tied down to a contract until 2017.
Colombian international Eder Balanta has also been whispered. The centre back is likely to leave River Plate and £5m could be enough to prise him away from the Argentinian outfit. Balanta impressed at the World Cup and is only 21. It is reported that West Ham had scouts watching him at the World Cup with Liverpool, amongst other clubs, also monitoring his situation.
Transfer talk has cooled on Balanta in recent weeks though and a deal is far from being completed.