As deadline day came and passed on Monday without West Ham producing any last-minute deals, a palpable but expected frustration took up residence at the London Stadium.
These have been trying months for manager David Moyes and West Ham fans, who have had little to celebrate either on the pitch (last two results aside) or off it, with the sale of academy gem Grady Diangana — which prompted captain Mark Noble to vent his anger — still a bone of contention on the terraces.
As his sale to West Brom went through, a statement on the club’s official website read: “The money received for Grady will be reinvested entirely in the team, in line with the manager’s targets.” The fee, according to BBC Sport, was £18m and yet only Vladimir Coufal (a £5.4m signing from Slavia Prague) has been acquired since.
Coufal, who put in an impressive debut performance over the weekend, was perhaps only signed through necessity as well, with Ryan Fredericks sustaining a hamstring injury. So, if the maths is correct, that leaves the Hammers with about £12.6m to play around with from the Diangana sale.
So, with the domestic window still active until October 16 and Premier League clubs able to purchase from EFL clubs, could West Ham still be eyeing up deals to bolster their squad? If so, here are the realistic options left for Moyes.
A long-term summer target for, not only West Ham, but a number of Premier League clubs. Brentford have done well to fend off interest thus far, but one or two clubs may be looking at the immediate impact of Ollie Watkins at Aston Villa and will renew their interest in the coming days.
Benrahma scooped the fan’s Player of the Year award last season so was deemed superior to Liverpool’s recent nemesis. Indeed, he netted 17 goals and registered nine assists in the Championship last term, following up from 10 goals and 14 assists the season prior. Impressive metrics for a winger.
With Felipe Anderson set to join Porto on loan and Diangana off the books, there is now a gap on the flanks for some additional venom, and Benrahma would bring that in abundance. There are more urgent positions that need addressing for Moyes, but the signing of Benrahma would certainly give everyone a much-needed lift.
West Ham’s search for centre-back reinforcements has been well-documented, and after an audacious swoop for Fikayo Tomori on loan from Chelsea collapsed at the eleventh hour, Moyes would not be foolhardy to turn his attentions to Swansea’s classy defender Joe Rodon.
Also subject of intense interest from Tottenham, the Hammers could look to steal a march on their cross-city rivals, especially if they have serious ambitions about reinforcing their backline. The four-capped Wales international boasts a hulking 6ft 4in frame and has excellent ball-playing skills. He is hot property for a reason.
The right-back issue has been resolved, but now Moyes needs to address the opposite flank. A problem position down the years for the club, Moyes has seemingly turned his side’s glaring weakness on its head in recent games, with his newfound three-man defence yielding an excellent response.
With Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku paired together in Moyes’ new system, the Hammers have clinched consecutive league wins over Wolves and Leicester, but that same issue remains prominent: neither player can function effectively in a traditional back four.
A move for QPR’s versatile left-back Ryan Manning could, therefore, prove a masterstroke. The uncapped Irishman created more chances than any other defender in the Championship last season (74), registered the most assists (7) and completed the ninth-most tackles (79). An exceptional blend.
Well, this one just makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? With Jack Wilshere leaving the club on deadline day, the purchase of Will Hughes would represent an adrenaline shot to the middle of the pitch. Coupled with the ageing legs of Mark Noble, West Ham appear one midfield injury away from a total meltdown.
On paper, the double pivot of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek is arguably one of the league’s best, but should the unthinkable happen and injury strike, Moyes would have a serious problem. Hughes is a different sort of player, but his passing exploits would no doubt thrive alongside the defensive competence of either Rice or Soucek. A younger Noble model and Wilshere without the troubling injury record. An absolute no-brainer.
A forward who has attracted the attention of Spurs and Man Utd in recent seasons, it almost feels that every club worth their salt should be after the Norway international. A real livewire and prolific finisher, King would offer an excellent alternative in the final third to Michail Antonio.
The reinvented centre-forward has excelled as a No. 9 for Moyes, but a worrying injury track record could mean further depth is needed up top. In King, Moyes would have a forward who can play between the lines, or function as a support act, possibly to Sebastien Haller, whose so far played his best football in a two-man strikeforce for the Hammers.
It is believed West Ham will now turn their attentions to Dawson after failing to land any of their primary centre-back targets during the summer window. The 30-year-old has been relegated twice in the past three seasons, but certainly has plenty of Premier League experience.
The Watford defender would be a risk-free, albeit slightly underwhelming signing, but could work well in Moyes’ current system. A no-nonsense type, the Hornets are unlikely to demand a sizeable fee, which could prove a promising option given the circumstances.