The biggest question-mark against any foreign arrival to these shores is whether they can adapt to the English game. The good news for West Ham transfer target Roberto Inglese is his surname literally translates to English – but will that make the Italian a Premier League hit?
The Hammers have a new manager in Manuel Pellegrini and there will be an air of optimism heading into the new season after a dire 2017/18 campaign saw Slaven Bilić and David Moyes part company with the East London club.
New arrivals are expected at the London Stadium if the Hammers are to improve on the last campaign – where they won just ten times – and they’re going to need a frontman to take them to the next level.
On paper, Andy Carroll and Javier Hernández should have been good enough to steer West Ham into a mid-table position at the very least. But it didn’t quite work out that way for the large majority of last season with the Hammers finishing a disappointing 13th.
The forward line were helped out quite considerably by players in other positions, with the Hammers surprisingly the seventh-highest scorers in the Premier League last season with 48 goals.
But out of those 48 strikes, just 11 came from the perennially injured Carroll and Hernández who, after initial promise, endured a frustrating first season with the Hammers. Another 11 came from converted forward Marko Arnautovic – form which saw him subject of Manchester United transfer rumours.
Now, they’re on the lookout for someone who’s going to score 15 or more a season, and one man through the door could be Napoli forward Roberto Inglese, who signed from Chievo last summer before being sent back to the Flying Donkeys on loan for the season.
In the last two campaigns Inglese has scored 24 times in all competitions in Italy and the Hammers have identified the 26-year-old as the man to end their patchy recent record when it comes to signing forwards – a trend continued by Hernández who only managed eight top-flight goals in a stop-start campaign.
Of course, Arnautovic proved in the end to be good addition, but Pellegrini knows his new side need extra firepower from an out-and-out striker and Inglese could be the man to provide it.
Although his 0.38 goals per 90 is only the third-best return versus West Ham’s current striking options, he played more minutes (2,795) than anyone else with Carroll managing just 746. That has an impact on his goals-per-90 return.
The former England international came out on top among the four for shots per 90 with 3.37 but his accuracy of just 28.5 per cent is reflected in his xG total of 2.44 which he narrowly bettered by scoring three times last term.
Inglese, however, took fewer shots (2.44 per 90), had a lower xG 90 total (0.28 vs. Carroll’s 0.29) and still out-scored the Hammers’ No.9 and his seasonal xG tally of 8.91 to record 12 goals.
Using Football Whispers’ exclusive Player Persona radar (above) we can see there is little difference between Inglese, Carroll, Hernández and Arnautović with the only stand-out characteristic Carroll’s aerial ability.
Interestingly, Inglese’s chance creation is one of his weakest points, underlined by his numbers. Although his two assists last term put him second to Arnautović (6), he provided fewer key passes per 90 (0.77) than Carroll (0.84), Hernández (1.22) or Arnautović (1.04) last term.
He also trails for accurate passes (11.62 per 90) but, again, the context for that is the number of minutes he played compared to West Ham’s existing forwards, particularly Carroll (746) and Hernández (1,543).
In summary, then, Inglese’s finishing which is his calling card. Given West Ham created the fifth-fewest ‘Big Chances’ per 90 last season (0.94), someone who will take advantage of those opportunities which come his way is desperately needed.
In that respect, Inglese could be made for the English game.