A few weeks a go the club were the laughing stock of the country for reportedly bidding just £3million for Hull’s Robert Snodgrass.
Fans were outraged at the fact we had the audacity to insult Hull with such a derisory offer for their most influential player, and rightly so.
But now, having finally secured a deal to bring the Scotland international to London Stadium, there are some fans who are questioning the £10.2m fee we’ve paid for his signature.
It’s this sort of reaction that makes me wonder what it is fans want the club to do in the transfer market exactly. They demand signings and they demand big money is spent on them – as if the transfer fee is representative of the player’s ability (it’s not) – but then try to find fault when a deal seems to tick all those boxes. That’s another article for another day.
If you look at the impact Snodgrass has had at Hull this season, it’s little wonder they were so reluctant to let him go on the cheap despite him having just over a year left on his contract.
But in today’s market – where Leicester’s out of favour left-back is signed for £12m and Ryan Mason goes for £13m – £10.2m isn’t actually a lot of money.
The obsession football fans have with transfer fees is borderline ridiculous when you consider it’s not their money the club is spending on players, but this particular deal should actually have fans applauding the hierarchy for bagging a bargain.
Last summer West Ham was criticised for signing players who had never played in England, let alone the Premier League, and it has come as little surprise to see the likes of Simone Zaza, Gokhan Tore and Jonathan Calleri struggle to adapt since arriving in London.
The owners appear to have learned their lesson and have reacted by bringing in one of the Premier League’s most consistent centre-backs in Jose Fonte and then Robert Snodgrass – both players who know the league, will require no bedding in period and will be able to hit the ground running.
The impending departure of Dimitri Payet has left a huge hole in Slaven Bilic’s side. Manuel Lanzini is the man tasked with taking on the role Payet made his own and so far he’s done a very good job, but then we needed someone to step in to Lanzini’s shoes. Snodgrass has been identified as the man to do just that.
The Scot is not on the same level of Dimitri Payet in terms of ability, flare and showmanship, but he can replace him effectively…
So much has been made of Payet’s ability to create chances and has almost double the return of Snodgrass this season in that respect.
But end product is far more important and that’s where Snodgrass comes out on top. Seven goals, three assists and a 55% shot accuracy is very good return for a player in a side struggling at the bottom of the table.
He has been Hull’s only real hope of staying in the Premier League and now he’s at West Ham, it’s their loss and our gain.
As mentioned above, though, Snodgrass has effectively been signed to replace the role of Lanzini as the Argentine steps in to Payet’s old role.
However, one area in which Snodgrass will be expected to replace Payet is in dead ball situations. He has already scored two direct free-kicks in the Premier League this season and will be the man tasked with replicating the fear Payet put in to opposition sides from dangerous free-kicks around the edge of the area.
Snodgrass’ creative ability could potentially supersede the contributions Payet had made earlier in the campaign and last season. It has been argued that whenever Payet was playing, everything was forced to go through him and there was too much expectation for him to produce every single week.
With Snodgrass, though, we’ve got a player who will not be the side’s main creative outlet and who will be left alone to quietly do his thing as part of a squad. There will be no expectation for him to pick up the ball at the half way line, beat five players and then score, nor will we be expecting rabona assists.
What is most impressive about Snodgrass’ stats this season is that he has done it in a team who has spent a lot of the season defending instead of going forward. Only Middlesbrough (18) have scored less goals than Hull (20) this season and Snodgrass has played a part in 50% of those.
So just imagine the impact he can have in a West Ham side that already has far greater attacking and creative threat than the Tigers.
So with the above taken in to account – stats and the role in which he’ll be expected to play within the team – £10.2m does not represent a huge outlay for a player who will improve us going forward.
We paid £10.7m for Dimitri Payet, which was daylight robbery, so a similar fee for a player capable of playing the same role should also be viewed as fantastic business.
However, the fee should actually be irrelevant. The relevant thing here is that West Ham have effectively replaced the creativity they lost when Payet said he would no longer play for the club.
No one can replace Dimitri Payet, but West Ham have replaced him with arguably the next best thing.