Belgium take on Canada on Wednesday night in Qatar and we take a look at 10 West Ham links to the World Cup Group F match.
There may be a dearth of West Ham news thanks to the domestic football shutdown for the duration of the World Cup.
But there are plenty of West Ham links and subplots to many of the matches being played out in the Gulf state.
That was evident from the very first match of the tournament with former West Ham striker Enner Valencia scoring both goals in Ecuador’s 2-0 win over the host nation. West Ham actually signed Valencia off the back of his impressive displays at the South Africa World Cup in 2014.
Next up on Wednesday evening is the world’s second best team – Belgium – taking on the side ranked 41st – Canada.
Belgium v Canada: 10 West Ham links to World Cup Group F match
Here Hammers News takes a look at Belgium v Canada: 10 West Ham links to the World Cup Group F match.
1) Old foe turned friend: Once a key player for West Ham’s fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Jan Vertonghen was full of praise for the Hammers when his team Anderlecht faced David Moyes’ side in the Europa Conference League recently. Vertonghen is still a mainstay of the Belgium squad alongside Anderlecht teammate Zeno Debast, who was given a torrid time when they lost twice to West Ham. Ahead of those clashes, Vertonghen said he has always seen West Ham as a ‘sleeping giant’.
2) Unrealistic target: Leicester contract rebel Youri Tielemans was linked with a move to West Ham throughout the summer window. The Mirror claimed the Hammers were plotting an ambitious move to rival Arsenal for the 25-year-old Belgian midfield ace. In the end he stayed at Leicester. But it always seemed a highly unlikely move from the outset.
3) The one that got away: Amadou Onana was all but signed, sealed and delivered for West Ham in the summer. The giant box-to-box midfielder was seen as exactly what West Ham needed in central midfield alongside Declan Rice and the ideal eventual heir to the Hammers captain. But Moyes refused to give Onana guarantees that he would be a starter and he instead joined Everton, with Frank Lampard offering him the assurances he was seeking ahead of the World Cup.
4) Once bitten, twice shy: Leander Dendoncker was linked with moves to West Ham before he joined Wolves and again before he joined Aston Villa in the summer. His versatility as a midfielder and centre-back made him an attractive proposition for Moyes. Dendoncker once said West Ham would have been the ideal move for the next step of his career (Sky Sports). But after missing out on him before his move to Wolves, the Hammers were dealt a blow again on deadline day when he went to Villa.
5) Hans off Vanaken: Towering Belgian midfielder Hans Vanaken was linked with West Ham all summer and was another said to be all but signed. In the end, though, the Club Brugge skipper was snubbed by Moyes with West Ham refusing to pay his asking price and he signed a new deal with his hometown club.
6) Striker de ja vu: If there is one thing West Ham fans are sick of, it is being linked with Chelsea flop Michy Batshuayi. Now at Fenerbahce, the forward was first linked with a move to east London back in 2016. West Ham wanted the then Marseille star to be their marquee signing going into a new era at the London Stadium. But Batshuayi snubbed the Hammers and elected for a move to Chelsea instead. It has been like groundhog day regarding West Ham and Batshuayi ever since.
7) Slav’s Besiktas connection: Around the same time West Ham first wanted Batshuayi, Slaven Bilic was also trying to bring Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson to east London. Besiktas president at the time Fikret Orman revealed his club have turned down an offer from West Ham in the region of £2.3m for Hutchinson. The midfielder was then 33. Incredibly he is in the Canada squad at the grand old age of 39.
8) The man so good they named him twice: Jonathan David will be a familiar name to West Ham fans who follow the transfer window closely. West Ham were said to be in talks with Lille and David’s representatives in the summer with a view to bringing the forward to the London Stadium (teamTALK). David stayed with Lille, where he has a very impressive goal record. But he is expected to move on in January or next summer and West Ham could yet sign the tricky attacker.
9) Ex MLS star: Canada star Cyle Larin is a former MLS striker with a superb scoring record who was being linked to West Ham last year. TUM SPOR claimed Moyes was interested in signing Larin, who was with Besiktas at the time. But the 27-year-old has since moved to join Vanaken at Club Brugge.
10) Moyes liked Ike: Ex Chelsea academy striker Ike Ugbo is also in the Canada squad. He was linked with West Ham too but ended up at Troyes via Genk and faced the Hammers in last season’s Europa League matches.