Every single year, at least one top-flight club that looks far too good to go down gets drawn into a relegation battle – and this season, it’s West Ham.
By all means, the Hammers are no stranger to flirting with the drop-zone, having finished in the bottom half of the Premier League table in 12 of their 23 previous campaigns, which included two relegations to the second tier. It had looked like things were on the way up for the East Londoners last season, though, after Manuel Pellegrini guided them to a top-half finish and had started putting together what looked like a handy outfit.
The former Premier League-winning boss also splashed out on the marquee signings of Sebastian Haller and Pablo Fornals for a combined total of more than £60m last summer – with European football firmly in the club’s sights. But this season hasn’t quite played out as expected for West Ham and its fans, as they find themselves sitting just outside the relegation zone on goal difference with just nine games left to play once the Premier League returns to action on 17 June.
Whether David Moyes manages to steer the Hammers to safety or not over the coming weeks, the Scot will more than likely want to shake up his side this summer as part of the first step towards rebuilding a squad that possesses no less than 13 players over the age of 30.
Here are the eight players he should be looking to move on at the end of the season.
Players West Ham should move on this summer
Roberto – sell
The Spanish goalkeeper has endured an utterly miserable first season at the London Stadium after arriving on a free transfer from Espanyol last summer. He was drafted into the Irons’ side for a game against Bournemouth in September following a hip injury to first-choice stopper Lukasz Fabianski, which kept him out of action until late December.
Despite having a wealth of experience behind him, including three stints at European giants Atletico Madrid, Roberto was unable to seize his opportunity and made a number of notable mistakes in his short time in the Hammers’ goal. Before being replaced by David Martin for an away fixture at Chelsea in November, the veteran shot-stopper conceded 21 goals in eight Premier League outings and two Carabao Cup ties, with his only clean sheet coming against League Two’s Newport County.
After the arrival of Darren Randolph in January from Middlesbrough, Roberto found himself pushed to fourth-choice in the pecking order. That led to him being set out on loan to La Liga side Alaves, where the 34-year-old failed to make a single appearance before the league was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Moyes is likely to move the Spaniard on this summer and should be looking towards bringing in a young, hungry keeper to develop – given that each of his first-team options are all on the wrong side of 30.
Pablo Zabaleta – release
There are very few people that would have many bad words to say about Pablo Zabaleta – the Argentine has undoubtedly been one of the best full-backs of the Premier League era. When he joined the Hammers, they were crying out for an experienced, committed defender to come in and do a job for a few of years – and that is exactly what the former Manchester City man has provided since arriving at the club three years ago.
But he has slowed down a lot over the past year, which has probably played a part in the 35-year-old deciding it’s time to say a fond farewell to the West Ham faithful and English football once his contract expires at the end of the season. As of yet, the right-back has not announced what his intentions are for the next campaign, but his departure will provide promising youngster Ben Johnson the chance to compete for a starting berth with Ryan Fredericks after Jeremy Ngakia has decided not to extend his deal beyond the end of June.
Winston Reid – sell
This is one of the most difficult decisions the Hammers’ hierarchy is going to have to make once the summer transfer window opens up. Winston Reid has been a great servant for the club since his arrival from Danish side FC Midtjylland in 2010. The centre-back has made 223 appearances for the Irons and grabbed famous winning goals against fierce rivals Millwall in 2012 and in the last-ever game at Upton Park against Manchester United four years ago.
But the Kiwi suffered a freak knee injury against Swansea City in March 2018 after awkwardly falling to the ground and being knocked unconscious. Reid has since experienced numerous setbacks on his journey back to full fitness, meaning he hasn’t played for the club for more than two years. The 31-year-old joined Sporting Kansas City in February, but the pandemic has meant he has so far been unable to make an appearance for the MLS side. With his contract set to run until 2023, Moyes could look to move him on once his loan comes to an end later this month.
Arthur Masuaku – sell
A decision over Arthur Masuaku’s future might not be quite as easy for Moyes as a number of West Ham fans may like it to be. Although the DR Congo international is often found out of position and doesn’t protect his fellow defenders all that well, the manager seems to regard him as a decent squad player. During the Scot’s previous stint at the club, Massuaku was arguably at his best when he was employed as a left wing-back, with his best passages of play largely coming in the offensive third.
But that is no longer the formation Moyes appears to favour and the defender doesn’t seem too comfortable when playing in a flat back four. With that in mind and, given that first-choice full-back Aaron Cresswell isn’t getting any younger, now could be the right time to bring in a reliable option, who offers greater defensive stability than Masuaku.
Carlos Sanchez – release
Letting Carlos Sanchez leave this summer could be the easiest decision Moyes will have to make during his time at the club. Since arriving at West Ham from Fiorentina for a reported £4m in 2018, the Columbian midfielder has been incredibly underwhelming. Having never really ushered his way into contention, Sanchez has been forced to look on from the bench throughout most of the past two years.
To be fair to the 34-year-old, he did suffer a nasty knee injury that kept him out of action for the majority of last season. But, despite getting a full pre-season under his belt throughout the summer, the former Aston Villa man has only made eight appearances in the league and cup so far this campaign. His last outing came in the Hammers’ FA Cup fourth-round defeat to West Bromwich Albion, where he was replaced at half-time after putting in a lacklustre display. Sanchez has not been selected in each of the last five competitive matches and will surely be moving on once his contract expires at the end of the month.
Jack Wilshere – sell
From being regarded as one of English football’s finest young talents a decade ago, Jack Wilshere’s career is one of those “what could have been” situations. After a number of injuries hampered his time at Arsenal, the creative midfielder’s stint at the London Stadium has been no different. West Ham fans have heard on numerous occasions that Wilshere is almost ready to return to action but it rarely seems to materialise and, even when it does, it’s not normally long before he’s back on the injury table.
The England international has been restricted to just 16 appearances in his two years’ at the club, with his latest outing coming back in October due to a niggling groin problem. Given that Wilshere is on a reported £100,000-a-week and has so far been unable to showcase his talents on a regular basis, the Hammers should be looking to sell the 28-year-old once the season comes to a close.
Andriy Yarmolenko – sell
Having been one of European football’s most-hyped youngsters during his time at Dynamo Kyiv, Andriy Yarmolenko has never really reached the heights many people expected of him. He is yet another member of this Hammers side to have endured an injury-ravaged spell during his time in East London after rupturing his achilles tendon in 2018 and suffering a torn abductor muscle earlier this season. Since joining the club from Borrusia Dortmund in 2018 for £17m, the Ukrainian winger has only made 25 appearances – scoring five times and recorded two assists.
Although Yarmolenko returned to fitness just before the season was halted back in March, he’s going to have a fierce battle on his hands to propel himself into Moyes’ plans once the campaign starts up again. Vying for a position on the right-hand side of midfield with him is the powerful presence of Michail Antonio, the reliable Robert Snodgrass and exciting January arrival Jarrod Bowen. With Yarmolenko set to turn 31 this year and his injury record not looking too favourable, West Ham should probably look to offload him this summer.
Jordan Hugill – sell
Very few people understood the Hammers’ January 2018 deadline-day capture of Jordan Hugill, but he is one of very players in this side to have been drafted in by the current boss. Since joining from Preston North End for £9m, the centre forward has only played 22 minutes for the club following three substitute appearances – the last of which came against Southampton in March 2018.
Hugill has spent the past two campaigns out on loan at Championship outfits Middlesbrough and Queens Park Rangers. After notching 13 goals in 37 matches for the Rs this season, now could be West Ham’s best opportunity to recoup some of the cash they spent on the striker two years ago.
- The Playmaker’s Premier League team of the 19/20 season
- Five players Chelsea must sign to challenge for the Premier League title
- Five things we learned on the Premier League’s return to action
- Tactical Analysis: How can Aston Villa get the better of Sheffield United?
- How would Jadon Sancho fit into the Manchester City team?
/ 3 years ago
For the first time in over five years, an English team could be in...
/ 3 years ago
Young adult football fans are being forced to stay away from attending matches due...