West Ham United could have the chance to sign Premier League title-winning striker Shinji Okazaki, if Manuel Pellegrini wants him.
West Ham sanctioned the sale of Javier Hernandez to Sevilla on Monday.
The decision means Pellegrini has shipped out all five of last season’s senior striker options Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll, Lucas Perez, Jordan Hugill and now Chicharito.
Some fans are concerned West Ham may have left themselves short.
Pellegrini has brought in record signing Sebastien Haller and unproven forward Albian Ajeti.
Antonio injury and Hernandez sale leaves West Ham short
But beyond that the Hammers will have to start playing players out of position following the injury which is likely to keep Michail Antonio out for up to five months.
That sparked some speculation that West Ham would look to the free agent market.
The likes of Fernando Llorente and Mario Balotelli were snapped up. Former Newcastle attacker Hatem Ben Arfa was reportedly a target and remains without a club as does Wilfried Bony, a player Pellegrini signed for £28million during his time at Manchester City.
Reports from fellow Hammers site Claret & Hugh claimed Pellegrini was happy with his squad. The Chilean submitted a 23-man list to the Premier League this week.
That leaves two spaces open.
Hammers have Okazaki chance… if Pellegrini wants it
And it means West Ham could have an unexpected chance to sign Leicester City title winning star Okazaki, IF Pellegrini wants him.
That’s after Okazaki, 33, left Pellegrini’s old club Malaga after just 34 days (BBC Sport).
Reports from the likes of Marca in Spain say the Japan international has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent because the Spanish second-tier club are unable to fit his wages within their budget.
Okazaki played a key role in helping Leicester to their miraculous title win in 2016 and left in the summer.
He did not feature in Malaga’s three league matches this season and is now a free agent.
Title-winning free agent would make perfect sense
His wages would certainly not be a problem for West Ham. The club had a net spend of just £25million in the summer and are saving over £140,000 per week with Hernandez’s exit alone.
Okazaki’s availability has come out of the blue and with no shortage of irony given Pellegrini and director of football Mario Husillos’s old club are involved.
The target man would surely make an excellent, experienced back-up for the likes of Haller and Ajeti on a short-term deal.
But as ever the final say will be with Pellegrini.