West Ham’s reported interest in Alexis Sanchez may be mind-boggling to some but it is a worrying demonstration that little has changed at the enigmatic London club.
The past few weeks of COVID-19 induced lockdown may have brought the sporting world to a halt but the transfer mill continues to churn. As ever, some of the more intriguing links come from the east of London.
West Ham’s transfer team has apparently been going through their greatest hits (or rather, misses), as they seemingly continue to target Premier League has-beens on exorbitant wages. The Hammers’ recent transfer strategy can best be described as “targeting top EPL players from 2013”. This is what leads to such stellar acquisitions as Patrice Evra, Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere, Pablo Zabaleta, even Carlos Sanchez – the list goes on.
In keeping with this strategy, a number of outlets have reported the Hammers‘ interest in current Inter loanee Alexis Sanchez. Rewind to his Arsenal days (a good few years back now) and Sanchez would have been a coup for virtually any club on the planet. But now is not 2017, and David Moyes’ men would do well to remember that.
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Since those heady days, 31-year-old Sanchez has made a big-money move to United, failed to establish himself there even as a regular starter, and is now struggling for game time in Milan. So why would West Ham bother to risk signing an ageing, out-of-form winger whose best days are long gone?
Links Reinforce West Ham’s lack of Transfer Strategy
The issue here is not the club’s targeting of Sanchez itself, but what it represents; and that is a continuation of a shoddy, half-baked transfer strategy.
Whilst clubs like Leicester, Southampton and Wolves have constantly re-invented themselves as homes for promising homegrown or European talent, the Irons have lagged behind. Signing Andriy Yarmolenko for almost 20 million pounds when Leicester bought James Maddison for a similar price in the same window, shows the gulf in transfer wisdom between the clubs.
Further, West Ham’s link with Alexis continues a long-running obsession with buying wingers – a perplexing conundrum, seeing as almost a third of the existing squad can play on the flanks.
Meanwhile, urgent upgrades are needed but ignored, in the centre of midfield, up front, and almost the entire defence – making it all the more vexing for fans when large sums are spent on auxiliary attackers.
Not to mention, the Hammers only just bought Jarrod Bowen in January, have Michail Antonio in fine form, Felipe Anderson on the bench and Grady Diangana waiting in the wings. On current form, it is hard to see Sanchez pip any of them to a bench role let alone a starting spot.
January saw West Ham make some shrewd acquisitions, seemingly focussing on hungry, underrated talent ready to take the step up from a smaller league to the EPL. They would be wise to continue on the same path and avoid a banana-peel transfer strategy, which Sanchez’ purchase might represent.