Hammers fly out to Austria
Slaven Bilic flew his first-team out to Austria yesterday as our pre-season tour of Europe began. The squad are returning to the site of our friendlies against Rubin Kazan, Slovacko and Karlsruher SC before the start of last season. However, Hammers fans will be hoping that we fare better this time, as we only picked up one win out of three games in the country last-year. This year, we will face the likes of EFL Championship side Fulham and home favourites Sturm Graz B. The only player who will be unavailable for selection for the first tour is Jose Fonte, as the former Saints man has been on international duty with Portugal at The Confederations Cup in Russia. However, Fonte is set to join up with the boys as they make the short trip across the border to Germany for a friendly against Altona 93 and the Betway cup tie against Werder Bremen. So, with excitement building as pre-season gets underway, the start of the 2017/2018 Premier League season is just around the corner.
Obiang exited for Premier League opener
Our Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang has expressed his excitement for the new Premier League season as pre-season arrangements formally begin. The 26-year-old also signed a new contract that will keep him at The London Stadium until 2022 last week to the delight of Hammers fans. However, the 25-year-old spent the final stages of last season sidelined through injury after needing surgery on his ankle. The former Sampdoria man has travelled with the squad to Austria where he will continue his rehabilitation and is expected to return to full fitness by August. Obiang spoke to WHUFC.com in an exclusive interview after the lads returned to Rush Green last week and had this to say about his third season in East London: “I am ready and starting to feel confident in my ankle, so I think in August I will be ready to be on the same level. The former Spain U21 international instigated himself as a permeant fixture in Slaven Bilic’s starting eleven at the start of last season and will be hoping to regain his place when he returns. So, will Obiang hit the ground running with the kind of form that he showed in his first couple of years at the club next season?
Martinez set for first team birth
Our bright young winger Antonio Martinez has travelled with the first-team squad for the eleven-day pre-season tour of Austria. The Spaniard scored 14 goals to help the U23’s to a Play-Off promotion to The PL2 Division One but spent the second half of the season on-loan at Oxford United. The former Valencia man is also still yet to make the first-team squad, with many Hammers fans angrily calling for his inclusion. Slaven Bilic is understood to have given the starlet a chance to prove himself in the side before a decision is made on whether he will be loaned out for the upcoming season. So, will Martinez do enough to prove to the management team that he could be the man to solve our striker problems?
Transfer gossip: Hammers eye double swoop
It has been reported in the last few days by various Media outlets that Premier League star Marko Arnautovic is a huge transfer target for Slaven Bilic. The Austria international handed in a transfer request at Stoke City yesterday, an action that was reportedly taken to try to push a move to East London through. Arnautovic has impressed during his time with Mark Hughes’s men, scoring 22 times in 112 Premier League appearances. However, the 28-year-old has now paved the way for his move to The London Stadium, as fans drool at the prospect of a midfield three of Lanzini, Antonio and Arnautovic.
It has been rumoured this week by sources in Spain that we are interested in a shock move for Barcelona forward Munir El Haddadi. The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Valencia where he doubled his total of six La Liga goals to 12. The former Spanish international has four goals to his name at The Camp Nou after an impressive spell with Barcelona B. It is understood that Bilic will face stiff competition for the signature of the starlet, as the likes of Everton and Crystal Palace are also showing intertest. The idea of a loan move, as well as a permanent one, has been discussed between representatives of both clubs. Will the Spanish youngster prove to be our “20 goal a season” forward?