Everyone loves a new striker turning up at their club.
Sure a towering centre back or a workman like midfield dynamo can be just as important to your team’s success on the pitch but nothing gets the blood pumping like the thought of a 20+ goal a season talisman pulling in your club colours.
Which means West Ham fans must be in a permanent state of euphoria right now as they’ve seen 32 brand new strikers walk thought the doors of Upton Park (and the Olympic Stadium) in the last 7 years… that’s an average of 2.5 strikers every transfer window!
When I say “brand new” what I actually mean is “often second hand and past it” as the hit rate of decent signings is as unimpressive as many of those signings hit rate in finding the net. All 32 players may have only set the club back roughly 1/2 of Paul Pogba’s transfer fee (£55 million) but still it would be fair to expect a better goal ratio than the 125 scored in 642 matches. Some of the names that have been printed onto the back of the famous claret and blue shirts have been SO forgettable that I thought it would be worth reminding you of their tenures. Every. Single. One of them.
Ready? Here we go.
32. Benni McCarthy (Signed for £2.5million in Jan 2010)
Benni finally put pen to paper on a deal at West Ham around 3 years after he was originally wanted by the club and around 3 years after he was one of the Premier League’s top strikers. He spent much of his time looking fairly out of shape and didn’t score a single goal in his 14 games.
31. Ilan (Signed for Free in Jan 2010)
A Brazilian striker that worryingly no one appeared to have heard of, when he arrived in the January transfer window. He managed to find the net a whopping 4 times making him (worryingly) one of the biggest hits in the list. He left as abruptly as he arrived after being released at the end of the season and went back to Brazil.
30. Mido (Signed on Loan in Jan 2010)
The final member of the striking trio that arrive in January 2010, thus helping enforce the theory that you never sign anyone decent in January. The ex-Tottenham man scored zero goals and despite being a little overweight lost zero pounds returning to his parent club Middlesbrough at the end of the season.
29. Frederic Piquionne (Signed for £1m in July 2010)
It would be wrong to describe Piquionne’s spell at West Ham as a disaster. After all, he is one of only four strikers in our run down to reach goal scoring double fingers but at the same time he won’t go down as the next Geoff Hurst. His most telling contribution was possibly getting sent off after enthusiastically celebrating a goal against Everton, a game which the Hammers consequently drew contributing to the team’s relegation.
28. Victor Obinna (Signed on Loan in August 2010)
This one was exciting. A hot prospect in the ranks at Inter Milan would surely boost West Ham’s attacking prowess upfront? His spell with the hammers was decent most notably with 4 assists in a shock 4-0 win over Manchester United but he didn’t do enough to earn a permanent deal and returned to his parent club at the end of his loan. He’s currently a free agent at the age of 29 so who knows… he could return!
27. Demba Ba (Signed for £680k in January 2011)
One of the few hits to make it onto the list netting 7 times in just 12 appearance for the club for which he signed on a pay to play deal. That wasn’t enough to see the Hammers escape the drop and Ba turned down a pay increase from the board to activate a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave for Newcastle on a free much to the annoyance of the fans. He’s currently absolutely coining it in the Chinese Super League.
26. Paul McCallum (Signed for £64k in January 2011)
Who? Seriously. Never heard of him. The internet tells me he played well for the academy but never quite made it into the first team. Currently doing OK with Leyton Orient, which is nice.
25. Robbie Keane (Signed on Loan in January 2011)
Facing the drop in the winter of 2011, West Ham needed a goal-scoring hero to save them from life in the Championship. Gold and Sullivan thought that man was 30-year-old Robbie Keane. It turns out they were wrong. He scored on his club debut but then rapidly went off the boil only finding the net one other occasion in the 9 times he pulled on a shirt. The spell in the East End was traumatic enough to see him enter the “retirement” stage of his career and head of the USA to play for LA Galaxy.
24. Brian Montenegro (Signed on Loan in August 2011)
One of the greatest names to grace a West Ham shirt Brian Montenegro sounded more like a character from Goodfella’s than a footballer: (“Hey, get Brian Montenegro and Nicky Knuckles to pay them clowns a visit” – see?). His playing time was less impressive notching up just one game in which the Hammers lost to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.
23. John Carew (Signed for FREE in August 2011)
Big John Carew is one of those players who must always have his name prefixed with “Big” but this big name failed to deliver big results. The Norwegian legend had an impressive haul of nearly one in three for previous team Aston Villa but only netted twice after dropping down to the Championship to play in Big Sam’s team… now there is a man who LOVES a big man. He played 21 games for the Hammers and then retired in disgust.
22. Sam Baldock (Signed for £2.75m in August 2011)
If Jamie Vardy has taught us anything it’s that picking players up from the lower leagues can occasionally pay spectacular dividends. Sam Baldock did not teach us that. The 5ft 7in MK Dons striker was probably always going to struggle for game time in a Allardyce team that prefers to boot it up pitch and his 5 goals in 23 showings for the team was maybe testament to his suitability to that style. He’s still only 27 and currently banging in the goals for Championship challengers Brighton.
21. Nicky Maynard (Signed for £1.7m in January 2012)
Having scored 45 goals in 125 for Bristol City there were high hopes for Nicky Maynard. High hopes that, like the Bubbles at Upton Park, faded and died as the striker failed to make an impact at West Ham with just 4 in 17 appearances. He lasted 6 months before being shipped off to Cardiff.
20. Sean Maguire (Signed for Undisclosed Fee in January 2013)
Another name that may not even get a flicker of reaction from the most ardent Eastender. Maguire was plucked from the Irish league, bought to West Ham and thrown back into the Irish league without even playing a single game.
NOTE: Dont confuse Sean Maguire the footballer with Sean Maguire the actor who appeared in Eastenders and thus probably had a more successful career in East London).
19. Andy Carroll (Signed for £15m after initial loan in June 2013)
When the most successful name in your signing list is Andy Carroll then you know you have a problem. The ultimate big-man-up-top, of course joined under the reign of Sam Allardyce. Initially a loan the club splashed a record amount of cash on the Geordie NHS burden and he has made over 100 appearances (with 29 goals) for the club over a 5 year period. Carroll is still West Ham’s main man but his early promises of being a “20-30 goals a season man” are alarmingly off the mark!
18. Modibo Magia (Signed for £4.5m in June 2013)
The 2013-14 season started with Andy Carroll ruled out through injury (surprise, surprise) and so Magia would be the main man leading the Hammers attack. In fact, he would be the only man, seeing as he was the sole striker on the club’s books. In 3 years at West Ham he spent two spells on loan and eventually buggered off to Saudi Arabia to kick a ball about for a bit.
17. Wellington Paulista (Signed on Loan in January 2013)
Another exciting Brazilian to arrive at Upton Park, Wellington joined the club in the same thrilling window as Joe Cole and Marouane Chamakh, and impressively had even less impact than that duo. He said on arriving in England: “I am coming to England to prove to everyone that I am one of the best strikers in Brazil”. He didn’t. In fact he didn’t even get a game and he left 6 months later without the board taking up the option to offer him a three year deal.
16. Marouane Chamakh (Signed on Loan in January 2013)
In January 2013 West Ham fan were gifted an amazing potential Fantasy Football Team name (Chamakh My Bitch Up) as Arsenal agreed to loan their potential future star to the other side of London. His stay was forgettable… in fact it was so forgettable I’ve forgotten what I was going to write next.
15. Danny Whitehead (Signed on a free transfer in June 2013)
Another player who was plucked from the lower leagues, Manchester-born striker Whitehead made the move from Stockport County after being recommended by then County boss, Dietmar Hamann. When signing the hotly tipped teenager from Stockport County Allardyce said: ““Danny is very slight, which we’ll work on, but the question is can we create that potential into a Premier League player?” The answer was no.
14. Mladen Petric (Signed for Free in September 2013)
We’re learning two things here about West Hams super-strike force. 1) Sullivan and Gold LOVE a free transfer and 2) Those free transfers rarely pay dividends. Both are true of Mladen Petric. The Croatian was released by Fulham in the summer but still joined West Ham with high expectations. He only played 3 matches and scored 3 less goals than that.
13. Carlton Cole (Signed for Free in October 2013)
The West Ham board played a blinder here. In the summer of 2013 they released cult hero Cole from his contract, let him loose match fitness and gain weight before panic-signing him back to the club 5 months later. Bravo. He took a while to get up to pace but scored 8 in 49 during his second spell at the club.
12. Marco Borriello (Signed on Loan in January 2014)
Really? Roma’s Marco Boriello played for West Ham? Is someone making this stuff up? Apparently he had two games and never scored. There you go.
11. Jaanai Gordon (Signed for Undisclosed Fee in January 2014)
Another bit of speculative business for the Hammers when they snapped up Posh prospect Jaanai Gordon in the January window (That’s Posh as in Peterborough United. Not post as it social upbringing). His CV for the hammers is less than impressive being an un-used substitute in their 5-0 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest. He’s now 21 and still with the Hammers undertaking a series of Loan moves the latest of which is with Newport County.
10. Mauro Zarate (Signed for free in May 2014)
No stranger to English football following a spell at Birmingham City it was expected that Zarate would hit the ground running and he did. The little Argentinian did a lot of running… but not always with the best results. He started brightly but fell out of favour, only appearing sporadically for the team before leaving for Fiorentina. He recently returned to the Premier League with Watford and looked promising before getting injured against his old club.
9. Diafra Sakho (Signed for £4.25m in August 2014)
One of the more successful signings in the list Sakho has netted 20 times in 52 appearances for the Hammers and is still plying his trade for the club despite rumours that he is unsettled and a series of mysterious injuries. This season (to date) he has only played twice for the Irons.
8. Enner Valencia (Signed for £12m in July 2014)
Having looked impressive in the 2016 World Cup Finals it was something of a Coup when Enner Valencia joined West Ham, even if he did confess he’d learnt all he knew about the club from the film “Green Street”. He made a decent start to life at Upton Park and even chipped in with a few goals from the left wing where he was largely played. Injuries stilted his Hammers career and he was farmed out to Everton on loan at the start of the 2016/17 season.
7. Nene (Signed for free in 2015)
Nene was not only a Brazilian with a fancy single-word name but he’d also been a FIFA computer game ambassador alongside Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi. Unfortunately appearing on the cover of a PlayStation game was the only thing he had in common with the soccer superstars and he became the latest Brazilian import to fail to impact things in the East End. He made 8 appearances for West Ham, scored none and moved to Vasco Da Gama where he has an impressive haul of 21 in 43.
6. Nikica Jelavic (Signed for £3m in August 2015)
A deadline day panic buy from Hull, Slavan Bilic bought in his fellow Croatian to beef up his attacking options. Despite sharing a country of birth he didn’t impress the manager and managed only one goal in just over a dozen games. He’s now no doubt swimming around in cash in the Chinese Super League.
5. Emmanuel Emenike (Signed on loan in January 2016)
With West Ham embarking on a Europa League adventure in 2016, the board bought in players with European Experience such as Emenike who had tasted the Champions League with Turkish giants Fenerbache. The Hammers stay in Europe was short and so was Emenike’s stay in the first team. He is still on loan at the club but his appearances on the field have been few and far between.
4. Simone Zaza (Signed for £5m Loan Fee in August 2016)
Whilst most of the world was chuckling at Simone Zaza’s weird, stuttering penalty miss in Euro 2016 the West Ham board were busy whipping out their cheque books to sign the Italian international. Despite working hard he failed to score in his 11 appearances in a West Ham shirt. A clause in his deal would have resulted in a permanent switch to London and so the deal was cancelled and he joined Valencia instead.
3. Toni Martinez (Signed for £2.4m in July 2016)
At the tender age of 19 it’s too early to judge if Martinez will be hit at West Ham or not… but let’s do it anyway. The young Spaniard has been impressive for the Under 23s and on loan at Oxford United. A hotly rated prospect for the Spanish national team having appeared at U17 & U19 level it’s almost a guarantee that he will leave the club for bigger and better things before fulfilling his potential.
2. Jonathan Calleri (Signed on loan in August 2016)
With a big reputation in his home land of Argentina, Jonathan Calleri’s displays in England will leave most West Ham fans wondering if they accidentally signed his twin brother. There is no room for passengers in the Argentinean national team which would suggest there is more to come from the 23 year old. Whether the board want to take a risk and splash the cash to make the deal permanent remains to be seen but given their fondness for a random striker signing its a decent bet.
1. Ashley Fletcher (Signed for £700k in July 2016)
A product of the Manchester United youth academy Ashley Fletcher chose to take the trip down South to increase his first team chances. He has been used with caution in the first team this season making 13 appearances and on occasion looked half decent too, scoring his first goal against his old club Manchester United in a 4-1 EFL Cup defeat… yeah take THAT old club!
Phew, that’s it. 32 striking options signed by West Ham in just 7 years. It’s debatable how many of them can be classed as a success but there are certainly more bargains in the list than your average B&M store. Who knows what business Gold and Sullivan will do in the summer but I’d put money on either an ageing Premier League player, an unknown Brazilian “Superstar” or a lower league “diamond in the rough”. Job done.
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