In the final edition of our weekly journey through some of the worst David Gold and David Sullivan attacking signings during their time at our club, we look at the striker whose very name is the basis of this piece and another fairly awful Argentinian.
The dreadful Argentina Olympic star will go down in history as one of the worst Hammers strikers of the modern era, and a player whose performances really summed up our first season at The London Stadium.
The former Boca Juniors man was signed by Slaven Bilic on-loan from Deportivo Maldonado in the Uruguayan Top-Flight, but Calleri had spent the previous season in Brazil with Sao Paulo. However, his experience of different Leagues would not serve him well in the best division in the world.
Calleri’s transfer was originally announced before the start of the Premier League season, but personal terms would not be agreed until after the League opener at Stamford Bridge. The 23-year-old made his Hammers debut in the first ever league game at The London Stadium, a 1-0 victory over Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, missing a one-on-one with Artur Boruc in his first few minutes in Claret & Blue. Most Hammers should have sensed that the miss would be a sign of things to come, with plenty more opportunities squandered by the Argentine just days later as we were knocked out of The Europa League by Astra Giurgiu for the second-year running.
Unsurprisingly, the former All Boys man’s first few months as a Hammer were a total disaster, as he was frequently criticised by fans. As the winter months approached, Calleri picked up an injury and flew back to his native Argentina, it was rumoured that he would never appear in a West Ham shirt again. However, in January 2017 the 23-year-old returned to Slaven Bilic’s squad and picked up his first Hammers goal in the 1-3 win at The Riverside. The strike was branded as one of the worst Premier League goals in the club’s history and was a deflected strike that’s original course was wide left of Victor Valdes’s goal. The fluky effort was also the Argentine’s last Claret & Blue goal and the start of a painful spell for both fans and player.
Calleri’s first start under Slaven Bilic came in the 0-0 draw with Ronald Koeman’s Toffees in April and was the beginning of a run of starts for the Argentine. In that time, the forward missed a number of notable chances, these included his attempted Rabona at The Bet 365 Stadium to missing an open-goal and his late miss in the victory over Spurs at The London Stadium.
As the season drew to a close, it was evident from all angles that Jonathan Calleri would not be signed permanently and would return to Uruguay in May. However, the most baffling thing for most Hammers fans was the faith that was put in him by Bilic, when the Argentine was played ahead of Ashley Fletcher and Diafra Sakho over the closing games. Nevertheless, Calleri will be remembered, or not remember by most Hammers, as one of the worst strikers of the Slaven Bilic era, but he is surely topped for all the wrong reasons by our next man.
When the Italian striker Simone Zaza was signed on-loan from Serie A giants Juventus late last summer, not even the most pessimistic of fans could have imagined that he would become one of the jokes of the 2016/2017 Premier League season.
The former Italy international finally completed his Hammers move on 28 August 2016, the loan fee was believed to be around £5 million and his contract included a special clause which meant that the permeant purchase of the player would be compulsory if he made over 14 Hammers appearances. Zaza was already a familiar face to The London Stadium by the time he joined, after scoring the winner for The Old Lady in The Betway Cup friendly earlier in the month. Ironically, the late goal would be the Italian’s only ever notch at our home ground.
The 26-year-old made his Claret & Blue debut to forget in the 2-4 defeat to Watford at home in September, and after his second consecutive 4-2 defeat at The Hawthorns the following week, it was clear that Zaza was no good omen. A couple of dismal months would follow for the forward, but he maintained his first-team place throughout in the absence of Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho. However, with Zaza drawing dangerously close to his 14-game mark, Gold and Sullivan made the decision that the woeful striker was not going to burn a £20 million hole in their pockets and Zaza made his final Hammers appearance in late-November.
In his final Claret and Blue display, the former Sassuolo man shot from outside the area with Bilic’s men 1-4 down in The EFL Cup Quarter-Final, the effort went so wide of David De Gea’s left post that it went out for a throw-in. The wayward shot was accredited with summing up his whole West Ham career in a mere few seconds. After the best part of five-months as a Hammer, Simone Zaza returned to Italy in January 2017, as surely the worst striker signing of the David Gold and David Sullivan era.
However, if you disagree with me, you can head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter to vote for your worst striker that appeared in this weekly series.