One of the hardest questions going into the summer transfer window for West Ham is whether or not to sign the experienced Cameroonian defensive midfielder Alex Song on a permanent basis.
Following a magnificent start to life at West Ham and an unbelievably quick settling in process amongst the other African players in the squad, one might have seen the signing as a probability and necessity for the next season.
Alas, his form dipped further and further as the season drew to a close and there are many arguments now suggesting that it is possible to find a replacement better suited to the club rather than opting to buy Song for possibly monstrous fee.
So let’s see what we can take away from this. Firstly, he’s 27, a ripe age for anyone to show his upmost best and considering his intrinsic ability, it is hard to argue ‘Why not?’ when answering this question.
We can also see that he loves to dominate the midfield with booming runs and savagely sharp passes, slicing through an opposition’s defence like a hot knife through butter.
Song is a man who has immense ability and although that has not come into fruition at Barcelona, who’s to say he can’t replicate the form from his Arsenal days that earned him the chance at Barca in the first place?
The fact is, although his end of season was certainly not the way he started off, he was magic in that opening period with the rabona that coupled with a superb assist for a magical win at home to City and a dissecting ball through Hull’s defence to set up Downing’s winner. These memories do give me chills!
I also respected the amount of skill and control he brought to the game in the early days and I think that the whole team is responsible for the downfall and proves that when the team plays well, Song plays well.
Furthermore, Song retired from international duty right in the midst of his best form showing his resonating faith in the club and I think that should be rewarded.
But I can see the scepticism around the possibility of buying Song as well. There are many flaws in his game; sometimes looking like his giant legs are holding him down and his movements are not especially quick.
In a game where West Ham are looking increasingly faster and more agile, he seems to buck the trend with his slow, almost tedious style of play and at times, especially during the last few games of the season, he has shown he can give the ball away too often.
If West Ham wants to move into an era of attack-minded football, we have to apply the method with the correct players for it and I don’t think Song can rely on being adaptable so long into his career.
We also have to take into account our transfer budget and whether we choose to unleash that ‘bob’ on a younger, fresher or more exciting prospect, such as £ million for Pedro Obiang of Sampdoria or highly-rated 27-year old Stefan Reinartz of Bayer Leverkusen’s on a free transfer this summer.
In the interest of the youth, I am a very big fan of the likes of players such as Diego Poyet and Josh Cullen and can’t see any reason why the new manager does not want to see the side adopt a, granted less experienced, but potentially successful and exciting system with the youth being involved, certainly ticking the academy awareness box off the checklist for the incoming manager.
At the end of the day, I can see that there is a big risk in this deal and the negatives may have it over the positives. But if we were to sign Alex Song, I would not be disappointed.
Yesterday The Mirror were reporting that Song could go for just £8million and that is certainly a fee I’d be willing to pay for a player of his calibre.
But as I said previously, in order for Song to play well for us, there needs to be a harmonious chorus in the team to get the best out of the crazy Cameroonian.
If the next manager anticipates this and buys players accordingly to this ethos, then the Hammers could really be seeing Song up there again as one of the most dangerous players in the Premier League.