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Five strikers who could replace Sébastien Haller at West Ham | West Ham United


West Ham have a dire record when it comes to signing strikers. In the summer of 2019, the Hammers acquired Sébastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt for a club record fee that could have risen to £45m. He was viewed as the long-term solution to their striking woes. It has not worked out that way. Just 18 months later, West Ham have cut their losses on the Ivorian, selling him to Ajax for just £20m.

While Haller was never a hit at West Ham, his departure leaves the club short of attacking options. Michail Antonio is first choice under David Moyes when he is fit but, given his injury history, the club should not pin all of their hopes on the 30-year-old to make it to the end of the season without a spell on the sidelines. Moyes is likely to bring in another striker this month. Here are five players who could strengthen the team in the final third.

Josh King, Bournemouth

Josh King was heavily linked with a Premier League return before the season and looks set to leave promotion-chasing Bournemouth this month. His contract is up at the end of the season and Bournemouth would prefer to secure a fee for the frontman rather than lose him on a free later in the year.

The Norwegian has made just three starts in the Championship this season, so his exit would not be a huge blow to Bournemouth’s aim of finishing in the top two, but the 28-year-old at least gave a timely reminder of his goalscoring quality with a brace and an assist in their recent 4-1 win over Oldham in the FA Cup. He is a versatile forward who can play up front or behind the striker and, having had a direct hand in 62 goals across his five Premier League seasons, he has invaluable experience in the top flight.

Josh King has Premier League experience.
Josh King has Premier League experience. Photograph: Robin Jones/AFC Bournemouth/Getty

Boulaye Dia, Reims

After two run-of-the-mill seasons with Reims, Boulaye Dia has really come into his own in 2020-21. With 12 goals to his name, he is the joint top scorer in Ligue 1 this season. He has already scored more goals this season than he managed in his previous two league campaigns combined (10). The 24-year-old’s stock has risen accordingly and he is rumoured to be Moyes’ preferred target this month.

There is a risk that comes with signing a forward who has enjoyed an exceptional half season. However, the fact that nine of Dia’s 12 league goals coming on the road suggests the lack of home comforts is not an issue for the French forward. That said, West Ham’s striking captures from France in recent seasons – Modibo Maïga and Diafra Sakho – have struggled. If the Hammers do pursue Dia, they will be hoping third time’s the charm.

Boulaye Dia wins a header while playing for Reims against Rennes in Ligue 1.
Boulaye Dia wins a header while playing for Reims against Rennes in Ligue 1. Photograph: Stéphane Mahé/Reuters

Adam Armstrong, Blackburn Rovers

Adam Armstrong is one of two forwards Newcastle may have sold too soon. Armstrong and Ivan Toney lead the goalscoring charts in the Championship, with 16 goals apiece this term. Armstrong was never given a real chance to impress in the Premier League and, while his overall record in the Championship in uneven – 36.4% of his 44 goals in the division have come this season – he has shouldered the Blackburn goalscoring burden for Blackburn brilliantly this season in the absence of Bradley Dack.

The 23-year-old lacks top-level experience, which suggests West Ham could be better off looking elsewhere, but Jarrod Bowen’s step up from Championship to Premier League shows it can be worth gambling on a player from the second tier.

Adam Armstrong in action for Blackburn against Huddersfield in December.
Adam Armstrong in action for Blackburn against Huddersfield in December. Photograph: Greig Cowie/BPI/Shutterstock

M’Bala Nzola, Spezia

Spezia should retain the services of their top scorer M’Bala Nzola to give themselves the best possible chance of staying in Serie A. He has taken to top-flight football with ease, scoring nine of Spezia’s 23 league goals this season. Those goals have earned the Aquilotti an additional six points and attracted interest not only from West Ham, but Napoli and Newcastle too.

However, three of those nine goals came from the penalty spot and, while Nzola has been ruthless in the opposition box, the same could be said for Krzysztof Piatek, who was a goalscoring machine in his first six months in Italy with Genoa following his arrival from Cracovia in 2019. Since then, the Pole has struggled for form with both Milan and Hertha Berlin, so caution must be applied for clubs interested in signing Nzola.

M’Bala Nzola celebrates after scoring for Spezia against Benevento in Serie A.
M’Bala Nzola celebrates after scoring for Spezia against Benevento in Serie A. Photograph: Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Patson Daka, RB Salzburg

Tottenham were heavily linked with a move for Patson Daka over the summer before they eventually signed Carlos Vinicius from Benfica. Daka was reportedly keen to stay in Salzburg and develop rather than moving to a bigger club and staying on the bench. The 22-year-old has been exceptional for the Austrian side, scoring 25 times since the start of last season, and his fine performances have not gone unnoticed.

West Ham are said to have lodged a £25m bid for Daka, who remains on the radar of Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool. If West Ham could get a deal over the line, it would be a coup. Daka is represented by former Spurs and West Ham striker Fredi Kanouté, which could work in the club’s favour, and while it would be difficult to fend off fierce competition for the highly rated Zambian, as a Haller replacement, the youngster would be a statement signing for the east London side.

Patson Daka playing in the Champions League for RB Salzburg against Lokomotiv Moscow in October 2020.
Patson Daka playing in the Champions League for RB Salzburg against Lokomotiv Moscow in October 2020. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

Conclusion

The dream signing would be Patson Daka. Although, with three other Premier League clubs apparently interested in the Zambian, West Ham may be better off turning their attention elsewhere. The Hammers are not the only side in the market for Josh King, with Midlands pair Wolves and West Brom said to be monitoring the Norway international, but his Premier League experience and versatility perhaps render him the most viable option for Moyes and West Ham.

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