One of the predominant reasons behind West Ham’s success this season is the sheer footballing quality of the signings that were made in the summer.
Sam Allardyce was shrewd rather than selfish in the transfer market, and key loan signings Alex Song from Barcelona and Carl Jenkinson from Arsenal have played a major part in the first-team frame so far this campaign. However, does this necessarily constitute them as ideal permanent transfer deals this summer?
The first thing that we have to bear in mind is whether or not the clubs in question will be prepared to sell. Arsene Wenger bought two players in the previous summer transfer window who are very capable in the right-back position, with Mathieu Debuchy bringing a wealth of Premier League experience from his Newcastle days, and Calum Chambers seemingly being the unorthodox back-up, bearing in mind the extent of the injury problems for the Gunners.
This allowed The Hammers to bring in the young and talented Carl Jenkinson, who has already been capped for the England national side. He wanted more first-team football, and was a perfect fit for Big Sam’s problems at full-back, with the likes of Guy Demel no longer considered to be Premier League quality.
Jenkinson has been dubbed ‘The Cockney Cafu’ by the West Ham faithful so far, and it is increasingly looking like a full-time move will be on the cards, but not until the summer according to Big Sam, with various price tags ranging from about £4million to £12million being quoted in the media this week.
He would be a fantastic signing nonetheless, with him bringing the attributes of the modern full-back down the right-hand side, and he would be a long-term prospect looking especially ahead to the days of playing at the Olympic Stadium. Since it would appear that Jenkinson is surplus to requirements now at The Emirates, we should be able to get him for a reasonable price.
Alex Song, on the other hand, is a completely different can of worms. This is an experienced international footballer who has played in World Cups, and you would have thought his wealth of Champions League football on his CV would not go amiss at Upton Park.
FC Barcelona, who signed him in the summer of 2012 for £15million, is not the sort of football club that would throw money around willy-nilly, so the Spanish scouts must have seen a spark in the Cameroonian midfielder. His opportunities in Catalonia have been limited however, but having said that it is rather difficult to break into a midfield that contains the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquests.
Song is a player with proven Premier league quality, and his shielding of the back four has been exceptional at times, with the fans loving it when he gets hold of the ball in the middle of the park and drives forward, turning defence into attack in the process.
He is also capable of a long-range strike ,and despite no goals this season, he was unfortunate to have a goal disallowed against his old club earlier on in the season. By far, we have seen the best of Song with his man of the match performance against the champions Manchester City, where he raised an eyebrow or two, but his temper and attitude has been questioned at times.
We saw in Brazil 2014 how unprofessional he can be at times, with his straight red against Croatia effectively ruining his nation’s chances of progressing in the tournament.
Barcelona will most probably want to offload Song, but with a transfer ban imposed on the Catalan side, they will be holding out for a very high price tag, so it may be difficult for The Irons to get him on the cheap.
Though we will have to wait to see if Song is consistent enough in the latter stages of the season in order to justify a high price tag for him.