From Benni McCarthy to Jordan Hugill, it is safe to say West Ham United’s recruitment of strikers has been incomparably abysmal over the years.
The last time the Hammers had a striker score 15 or more goals in a single Premier League campaign was the magical Paolo Di Canio – netting 16 times in the 1999/00 season.
20 years. 20 years on and still West Ham have failed to find a striker who can deliver them 15 or more goals in a Premier League campaign.
The (lack of) quality at the club coupled with horrific recruitment has created such a dreadful viewing for the West Ham fans over the years – they have craved a goalscoring machine for too long.
The past two seasons looked like Marko Arnautovic could be that man, but the less said about him the better. He reached double figures in both campaigns in Claret and Blue, but injuries and tantrums prevented him from reaching the elusive number 15.
The Austrian has departed this summer for China, and this could be the Hammers’ best chance to strike a goalscorer with the finances available to do so.
Maxi Gomez is a name every West Ham fan is familiar with, and quite frankly, getting bored of hearing. The Celta Vigo striker was identified as Manuel Pellegrini’s top target this summer, but an ongoing battle with Valencia to capture his signature has created difficulties and complications.
It appears that the Uruguay forward prefers a move to Valencia with the prospect of staying in Spain and Champions League football; the claret carpet at London Stadium wasn’t enough to convince him to join? Madness.
The deal looks very unlikely to happen after it was reported that the Hammers have pulled out of negotiations. However, if this deal was to be completed, West Ham would have an excellent striker on their books.
At 6”1 (1.86m), the 22-year-old has recorded impressive goalscoring statistics in his first two seasons in La Liga. In the 2017/18 campaign, Gomez netted 19 goals and registered five assists, which attracted attention from the likes of Liverpool and Barcelona. Last season, he scored 13 goals with five assists in a struggling Celta Vigo side, which makes his goalscoring prowess even more notable.
The closest person to breaking the 15-goal curse was Marlon Harewood, who scored 14 goals for the Hammers in the 2005/06 campaign. The England striker has been one of the more successful strikers in east London but failed to make a meaningful impact after enjoying one excellent season in the top-flight.
Savio Nsereko, Simone Zaza, Mido, Marouane Chamakh – just a few names on a long list of West Ham strikers in recent years to finish with a tally of zero goals at the club.
When you reflect on these types of signings, you must question the recruitment policy; what on earth were David Sullivan and David Gold thinking?
However, the Hammers have seen some talent walk through the door in east London – all be it on very rare occasions. Dean Ashton is a player that springs to mind; a case of ‘what could have been’.
The striker undoubtedly had the talent to be the goalscorer West Ham were craving, but his ongoing battle with injuries prevented him from reaching the heights that many expected him to reach.
After netting 10 times in the 2007/08 Premier League campaign, Ashton was tipped as the next big thing in Claret and Blue, only for a long-term ankle injury to force him into early retirement the following season at the age of just 26.
Demba Ba is, arguably, the best striker West Ham have had since Paolo Di Canio. The Senegal striker joined the Hammers in January 2011, netting seven goals in 12 league appearances, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the drop and they were consequently relegated.
If Pellegrini had a player of Ba’s quality at the club now, there is no doubt that he would be the man to score them 15 goals. His clinical ability and physical presence made him a threat in every match, but due to West Ham’s relegation, he was sold to Newcastle where he scored 16 league goals the following season.
He had the quality, but the timing was wrong for him in east London.
With the move to London Stadium, the fans were promised and sold an expectation of progression and were told the club would be competing with the top six.
However, those promises turned out to be false, and from Carlos Bacca to Alexandre Lacazette, West Ham ‘targets’ have merely been rumours for the fans to get excited about.
Jonathan Calleri, Zaza and Javier Hernandez have all failed to make a meaningful impact at London Stadium, so this summer it is crucial that the Hammers sign a prolific, goalscoring machine to coincide with the abundance of creative quality they possess in midfield.
The likes of Felipe Anderson, Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini can make things happen, and having a lethal striker at their disposal will only enhance the chances of West Ham finally making meaningful progress as a football club.