However, sometimes, we manage to find a diamond in the rough (see Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet, and more recently, the ‘Czech Mates’ – Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal). But following a record-breaking season and European football pending for West Ham, what necessary transfers are vital to continue the success? With the window officially open, we assess the qualities, strengths, and weaknesses of those that could land themselves in East London before August 31st.
Sam Johnstone – Projected £20million
Despite relegation, West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone racked up the highest number of saves in the Premier League last season (166). Johnstone spent his youth at Manchester United, proceeding to be subject to multiple loans away from the Northern giants. Having minimal opportunity at his parent club, Johnstone signed permanently for West Brom in 2018.
Since then, the 28-year-old has been on an upward trajectory. As his game-time increased, his natural talent and forward-thinking prompted England boss Gareth Southgate to call Johnstone up to the senior team for the first time in March 2021. After impressing in training, Johnstone deservedly got his call up to the 2020 Euros only a few months after his first senior camp.
As West Brom is a relegated team, they have anticipated Johnstone’s willingness to leave. However, due to the current international status of the goalkeeper, the asking price has increased. Despite this, and in my opinion, the reported £20million fee for such a bright talent is a no-brainer and will give Lukasz Fabianski a fresh breath of healthy competition.
Duje Caleta-Car – Projected £20million
Back in the January transfer window, the Daily Mail reported the interest of West Ham in Duje Caleta-Car. Marseille was open to selling the young defender due to needing to meet Financial Fair Play regulations – but the deal fell through as Caleta-Car wanted to play Champions League football with the French side. So instead, West Ham proceeded to take Craig Dawson on loan. Now, however, a defensive gap has been left with the departure of Fabian Balbuena. With the guarantee of European football, Caleta-Car may be the defender West Ham need.
This year in Ligue 1, Caleta-Car made 33 appearances, scoring twice and accumulating an average of 0.9 tackles per game. At Marseille, he managed an average game rating of 6.71 out of 10 – a fair score for the 24-year-old. Defending aside, the young defender is also a dominant passer, with an incredible pass succession rate of 86.1% for his club – a whopping 92.3% succession rate for his national team.
A Croatian native, the defender is one-to-watch in the national team. He was amongst the team that landed an impressive 2nd place in the FIFA World Cup 2018, playing a full 90 minutes against Iceland in the group stages. Furthermore, Caleta-Car’s experience of Champions League football would prove beneficial for the Hammers, as building a competitive team with plenty of European experience is undoubtedly a must for David Moyes.