Premier League

5 Natural Wingers West Ham Should Target in January

 • by Matt Gault
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Sometimes the stark contrast between two teams can make for compelling viewing. That was the case with Watford’s 2-0 win over West Ham United on Sunday, a result which highlighted the scale of the task facing David Moyes at the Hammers.

The Hornets were deserved winners. Marco Silva’s side were energetic, positive and inventive in possession. Will Hughes was an effective presence in the middle while the two full-backs – debutant Marvin Zeegelaar and Kiko Femenía – provided enterprising outlets on the flanks.

The disparity between the home side’s options out wide that of the Hammers was telling. Moyes, going with what looked like a bold 4-3-3, deployed Marko Arnautović and Manuel Lanzini either side of Andy Carroll.

It didn’t work. With both players keen to move inside – Lanzini is naturally suited to a more central role after all – West Ham lacked natural width. Without Michail Antonio, the Hammers do not look like a team that can hurt you from wide areas.

It highlighted an area of concern for Moyes – one which he will most likely address in January. Here are five natural, pacy wingers West Ham should target in the winter transfer window.

Nacer Chadli

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Chadli became West Bromwich Albion’s record signing when he joined from Tottenham Hotspur in August 2016 for around £13million. He enjoyed a solid first season with the Baggies, scoring five goals in 32 appearances.

However, his injury woes have held him back this season, restricting him to just a solitary appearance in the Premier League. Much to the Baggies’ frustration, he picked up another injury while on international duty with Belgium last week.

He should recover from that thigh injury by January. If he does make a timely comeback, his services would certainly be of interest to West Ham. The Belgium international can operate as a natural left winger, someone who has the pace and trickery to beat defenders and get crosses into the box.

He has also proven that he has an eye for goal, having managed 13 in the 2014/15 season for Spurs. At 28, he has at least three of four years left at this level and, with plenty of Premier League experience under his belt, he could be one of the strongest options available to Moyes.

Given his recent track record with injury, though, the Hammers may be unwilling to ask what is likely to be an asking price of around £10million. If they do sign Chadli and he stays fit, he could turn out to be an excellent option for the club, and a player who can provide quality service to the likes of Javier Hernández and Carroll.

Kevin Mirallas

Out of favour at Everton, Chadli’s Belgian compatriot is in need of a Premier League lifeline and he could be offered it by the man who brought him to these shores.

Moyes signed Mirallas for Everton back in 2012 and, while he hasn’t shown his best form for quite some time, a change of environment could suit the 30-year-old.

Mirallas was part of the Belgium squad that reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2014 and will be keen to make Roberto Martinez’s side for next summer’s tournament in Russia.

However, his lack of game time at Goodison Park is not doing his chances any good and may feel as though a loan move to the Olympic Stadium until the end of the season could boost his odds of playing for Belgium.

More importantly, he would offer West Ham natural width and has proven to be a goalscoring threat when playing regularly (he’s managed eight goals or more three times for Everton). While he signed a new contract six months ago, Mirallas was accused by Toffees interim boss David Unsworth of a ‘lack of commitment.’

Given the current toxic situation on Merseyside, he may be attracted to a move to London.

Junior Hoilett

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The Canadian has been reborn at Cardiff City. After leaving Queens Park Rangers last year, the 27-year-old has established himself as one of the Championship’s most consistently effective wide men, and has been integral to Neil Warnock’s side’s success so far.

Hoilett has averaged 1.7 successful dribbles per match this season but, crucially, he has delivered when it’s come to an end product, with four goals and five assists to his name already.

The winger has shown flashes of promise in the Premier League, first at Blackburn Rovers before moving to the R’s in 2012.

Now, he is more rounded and experienced and is playing some of the best football of his life.

He possesses that sharp burst across short distances and has a low centre of gravity, enabling him to ride challenges and take on defenders – something that has turned out to be a key feature for the Blackbirds this season.

Cardiff are determined to hold on to Hoilett as they chase automatic promotion but, should West Ham launch a bid, he may find the guarantee of top-flight football too difficult to turn down.

Kwadwo Asamoah

Reports in October suggested that the Hammers were readying a January bid for the Juventus winger. The 28-year-old Ghanian’s future in Turin is very much up in the air. He is in the final year of his contract and, with no movement on a fresh deal being offered, the Bianconeri may be open to selling him in January as opposed to losing him for free in the summer.

The former Udinese wide man is comfortable playing at either left-back or further up the pitch and would offer Moyes plenty of experience and top-flight pedigree, having won five Serie A titles during his time in Italy. Asamoah was also named in the Serie A team of the year in 2014, so there is certainly no shortage of ability for Moyes to work with.

Although West Ham will likely face stiff competition from Galatasaray in January, Asamoah would be an option worth pursuing, with his versatility, speed and engine on the left representing much of what the Irons are currently missing.

Theo Walcott

The Arsenal speedster has been mentioned among recent West Ham transfer rumours and is a realistic Hammers transfer target. Considering his status as an established Premier League player on a lucrative contract and as a fully-fledged international, Walcott is the premium option on this list.

However, he is arguably the most exciting, too. Now 28, the former Southampton winger could be looking for a fresh start after finding starts increasingly elusive under Arsené Wenger at the Emirates Stadium this season.

In fact, Walcott hasn’t started a Premier League game all season and may feel the time is right for a new challenge. And that’s certainly what he’d get at the London Stadium. However, West Ham would offer Walcott the chance to reinvigorate his top-flight career and give England manager Gareth Southgate something to think about in the months leading up to the World Cup.

Although Walcott hasn’t been starting regularly for the Gunners, it’s well-established what he brings to the table: speed, agility and an eye for goal. He scored 19 goals in all competitions last season (a personal best) and that level of attacking threat and menace in the final third could be a key ingredient in giving this West Ham side a much-needed shot of adrenaline.

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