A transitional summer for West Ham spearheaded by the sale of Declan Rice to Arsenal
for £105m necessitated an abundance of new talent coming to the London Stadium such as Mohammed Kudus.
New technical director Tim Steidten at first appeared to clash with manager David
Moyes over transfer targets, but in the end, West Ham had quite the impressive summer.
Edson Alvarez and James-Ward Prowse were brought in the door and have started their time at
West Ham brilliantly, seamlessly fitting into Moyes’ style of play. On top of that, the retention of
Lucas Paqueta and new-found form of Tomas Soucek has left Moyes with a loaded midfield.
West Ham spent £38m on Mohammed Kudus – he will play – but where?
Anyone associated with West Ham has been thrilled with the renaissance of Soucek, and Paqueta
is legitimately one of the best players in the league, hence the interest from Manchester City.
However, there is one summer signing that may be on the short end of these two revelations: Ghanaian midfielder Kudus.
Kudus was subject to concrete interest from Brighton early in the window before the two parties failed to agree on personal terms. When Mark Noble was scouting Alvarez at Ajax, Kudus’ performances were just as impressive, leading to the electric playmaker becoming a top target for the East Londoners.
West Ham’s solid start to the 23/24 campaign has meant Kudus, despite being signed on August
27, has yet to make a start in the Premier League, with his one start coming in the Europa League
against Backa Topola.
Kudus scored two goals in that game and showed real moments of quality, leaving Moyes with some key decisions to make for when the Hammers host Sheffield United on Saturday.
Tactically, Moyes has gone back to what he knows best this season after struggling to adapt his
play style last campaign. With the ball, Moyes sets up in a 4-2-3-1, and out of position in more of
The back five including the goalkeeper looks reasonably set. The midfield, however, is where things start to get tricky. Alvarez’ defensive capabilities make him an instant starter, no questions asked. Ward-Prowse’s goal output and quality on set-pieces also makes him nearly undroppable. The unquestioned talent and importance of Paqueta also means he is definitely a starter. That’s three central midfield players by trade who will have to start pretty much every game, where will Kudus play?
Further, while Soucek was poor for the vast majority of last season, it is known how much Moyes rates his physical presence and the Czech being dropped is also unlikely, another headache for Moyes.
At Ajax, Kudus played primarily on the right flank, a position currently filled by the flaming hot
Jarrod Bowen, who isn’t losing his starting spot anytime soon. Michail Antonio has proved he
seems to be the only man who can lead the line for Moyes’ side, so any thought of Kudus playing as a striker is a bit of a long shot. You can see where the dilemma lies.
There are a couple of solutions to this mess, but neither is entirely convincing.
The first option:
A diamond midfield. Having Alvarez at the anchor of a diamond with Paqueta and Ward-Prowse ahead of him and Kudus just in front of them sounds great on paper. Moyes would then ask Antonio and Bowen to play as a front two and try and stretch the opponent’s backline, with Kudus supporting them. However, there are a few issues with this style.
First, the midfield diamond is rarely played in today’s game due to the importance of wingers in
the modern style. You are asking a lot of front two to occupy the flanks and the forward positions, it would be a new role for them that isn’t easily adaptable.
Second, Soucek would be dropped in this formation. While the idea of him being dropped has
been a popular one amongst West Ham fans for a few seasons now, his performances this season
and presence he brings makes him hard to drop. Also, does a midfield three of Paqueta, Alvarez,
and Ward-Prowse really have enough bite to cut it in the Premier League? Maybe against teams
West Ham are favored against, but if it’s a game against the big 6, Moyes most likely keeps
Soucek in the team.
That being said, this formation would have a lot of potential, especially on the counter-attack.
Despite just a few brief cameos, Kudus looks most natural bursting through the middle with his
elite ball-carrying ability and turn of pace. His best role so far looks like at the number 10
position, and this style fits the bill.