West Ham United being linked with a big-money move for a forward is an annual event. The summer of 2019 has been no different with the Hammers reportedly keen on Callum Wilson having cooled their interest in Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gómez.
It isn’t the first time West Ham have shown an interest in the Bournemouth man. Reports tentatively linked the 27-year-old with a move to the London Stadium in the summer of 2018 as well as in January 2019.
Moves for the England striker failed to pan out, but this time could be different. The Hammers have a purpose about them.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men have already added Pablo Fornals to their squad, a statement signing with the 23-year-old previously a transfer target for Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
Reports suggest they’re interested in Joan Jordán, another player on Arsenal’s radar. They’re targetting players who could play a part for the clubs in the top six. The Hammers did the same when they acquired one-time Manchester United target Felipe Anderson last summer.
Pellegrini is assembling a squad capable of pushing for a European spot. Perhaps the only thing missing is a reliable goal threat. Last season, the Hammers finished just five points shy of seventh-placed Wolves.
The difference was the number of games lost. Wolves tasted defeat on 13 occasions, three fewer than West Ham (16). The Hammers lost by the odd goal on six occasions last term, including a 1-0 loss to Nuno Espírito Santo’s men.
A striker of Wilson’s ilk turns losses into draws and draws into wins.
He’s a reliable goal threat, a constant menace and his output is sustainable. Since the start of the 2016/17 season, Wilson has an expected goals average of 0.41. An impressive number given it’s over a fairly large sample size of over 5,880 minutes.
During that time, he’s averaged 5.56 touches in the area, 2.27 shots and he’s landed 40.9 per cent of those efforts on target. All while playing for a mid-table team in Bournemouth.
Last season he netted 14 goals and chipped in with nine assists. He slightly underperformed his expected goals average of 0.52 but that isn’t anything to be alarmed by. Furthermore, it’s an average no West Ham player could match.
Wilson’s heat map also shows he’s a player who does like to drop deep and link play, he’s not a pure poacher who camps in the penalty area.
However, perhaps his biggest selling point is just how predictable he is. His shot map from the 2018/19 season could be used to define the Bournemouth man as a player.
He takes very few low-value efforts, with just three shots all season coming from outside the area. Those taken inside the box were all fairly central with a high percentage of them coming in or around the six-yard box. Wilson gets himself into dangerous, high-quality positions on a regular basis.
The 27-year-old has done it for three successive seasons now and there’s no reason this shouldn’t continue. If anything, Wilson’s output is likely to improve if he’s alongside better players.
Anderson, Fornals and Marko Arnautović occupying the roles behind Wilson could be devastating and you’d be hard pressed to find a better attacking unit outside of the top six. It’s perhaps better than some of those currently occupying those positions in the Premier League.
If West Ham can turn this link into a reality, then they’re ahead in the transfer window and it’ll be difficult for others to better what they’ve managed already. They would have addressed two key areas before pre-season is underway.