When West Ham United eventually completed the protracted signing of Said Benrahma last week it sparked as much vitriol as it did excitement.
Most West Ham fans were excited the club had signed the talented Algerian from Brentford.
Others were furious with owners David Sullivan and David Gold that it was announced as a loan deal with an agreement to make it permanent after reported concerns over medical results (The Athletic).
There is no love lost between West Ham fans and the club’s owners.
And with good reason too. West Ham fans have grievances against Sullivan, Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady too long to list in this article.
The GSBOUT (Gold, Sullivan, Brady Out) campaign remains strongly supported on social media.
West Ham fans were angry Benrahma deal was downgraded to a loan
Indeed the motto at the heart of it is ‘support the team, not the regime’.
But when Benrahma’s deal prompted more vitriol in GSB’s direction, was it justified?
The accusation levelled at the board was that they had done everything possible to wriggle out of spending money during the window.
Downgrading Benrahma’s £30m transfer to a loan was seen as yet another example of that.
But while there are no board apologists here, let’s try and be even handed here for a moment.
Playing devil’s advocate, do West Ham’s owners actually deserve credit rather than abuse for the Benrahma deal? And the devil is very much in the detail.
Benrahma’s medical could not be carried out until he returned from international duty with Algeria on the Wednesday or Thursday before Friday’s EFL transfer deadline.
The devil is in the detail
That gave the club a finite amount of time to get things sorted.
There are some sceptical as to whether there was an issue with Benrahma’s medical at all. But it seems there was genuinely an issue according to several well-placed sources – such as The Athletic David Ornstein.
West Ham needed more time to assess the medical concerns.
But the deadline was looming.
So a new deal was quickly brokered with Brentford that mitigated the risk for West Ham. A £4m loan fee, followed by £20m purchase at the end of the season, which could rise by another £5m in add-ons later down the line.
Now the Hammers have one of the best, most exciting players outside the top flight on loan with an obligation to buy – IF – the medical concerns are allayed in the meantime.
There is no danger of Benrahma shining and then going elsewhere, as West Ham have the obligation to buy. It is a no-lose scenario for the Hammers in many respects.
Imagine for a moment the alternative.
West Ham spend their entire transfer budget on a player despite concerns being flagged during a medical.
Those concerns manifest into a long-term injury or issue.
West Ham fans would have castigated the owners for naive recruitment, or rushing to sanction a deal just to appease fans.
Instead they have the player they wanted but for once it is largely on terms that are favourable to West Ham for a change.
‘Deal is in West Ham’s best interests as long as owners don’t try and pull a fast one next summer’
The big concern for West Ham fans is that the owners will try to take the money for the permanent signing of the playmaker out of next summer’s transfer budget.
But the owners simply will not be allowed to get away with that by Hammers fans.
Of course this is not to say Sullivan has somehow played a blinder with the Benrahma deal. But it does appear – on the face of it at least – to have been cleverly renegotiated in West Ham’s best interests.
The question of whether West Ham “need” Benrahma is another subject entirely.
But even that has been answered by Moyes himself in an interview on the club’s official website.
The Scot makes it clear the intention was to sign a top centre half. But when those efforts to sign HIS key targets proved fruitless, and West Ham were offered the opportunity to offload Felipe Anderson, the club reacted to sign a replacement.
All roads lead back to Diangana but Benrahma looks an upgrade
Much of the transfer window resentment and questions can be traced back to the sale of Grady Diangana.
With hindsight perhaps it was an unnecessary sale. And West Ham should have brought in Josh King to bolster Moyes’s attacking options.
But Grady is hardly setting the world alight in the Prem with West Brom, who are one of the favourites to be relegated. And West Ham have reportedly lined up a cut-price deal for King in just over two months which could be another savvy move (Football Insider).
And the reality is Diangana’s statistics don’t come close to Benrahma’s right now.
West Ham’s new attacker has 57 goal involvements – 30 goals and 27 assists – in 94 games over the last two years.
‘Can he do it in the Prem? If anything he’ll be licking his lips’
He also has as much top level experience as Diangana having played in Ligue 1 from a young age.
Many ask the question can Benrahma do it in the Premier League? But this is no 1990s Serie A where defending is an art form.
Defending in the top flight has been woeful for some time now. That has been highlighted by the ridiculous and record-breaking glut of goals seen so far this term.
It could be argued Benrahma is actually an upgrade on Diangana. And if anything he will be licking his lips at stepping up to the big stage.