The most eagerly awaited day of the football calendar has finally arrived. After 63 days of gossip, speculation and downright made up madness the transfer window finally closes (sorry, slams shut) at 11 pm tonight. Spending has already topped the £1bn mark but with many believing the window is not complete without a last minute deal or two that figure is destined to hit new inflated heights.
A number of long running transfer sagas have dominated the window since it opened back in June and so today we may well finally find out what will happen to the likes of Coutinho, Costa, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez and Van Dijk . One thing that we know for certain is that none of the above will be heading down the Jubilee Line to the London Stadium.
Whether there will be any more comings and goings at West Ham is a confused picture and subject to contradictory information. Some say that our business is done and we can all go to bed early while others maintain that players from all corners of the globe are making a beeline to the London as we speak; in order to thrash out terms, undergo medicals and ink deals with the Hammers.
The apparent pursuit of William Carvalho has kept the West Ham faithful entertained for a few weeks now and, despite being exactly the type of player needed to make us harder to beat, it has the whiff of a token affair about it. A traditional part of every West Ham window has been to target a big name dream signing but to eventually come up short when it gets down to agreeing a fee; tweeting with an air of faux frustration that we had tried our best but failed even after checking down the back of every sofa in Sullivan Mansions for loose change.
With seven of last season’s squad having departed and only four new recruits then the squad looks light on quantity as well as the obvious gaps on quality. Throw in a median figure of six or seven out injured at any one time and a reluctance to blood those young players who have yet to be sent out on loan and you might get the impression that there is a self-destruct element to our season’s preparation. At the risk of labouring a point I can’t go along with satisfied self back slapping that has been going on regarding our transfer business. Apart from Javier Hernandez (although even there I remain curious as to how we can support him from our midfield assets) I think we could have done better than the other recruits where proven experience has blinded us to current and future potential.
Further confusion has now arisen from the Diafra Sakho situation with the striker seemingly trying to arrange his own transfer back to France. I have to admit to always having liked Sakho as he brings attributes of strength, mobility and defending from the front to forward areas that were otherwise missing. Allegedly he has some attitude issues but he is far from the first to have fallen out with the management. If he does end up staying I wonder what possible use he is going to be. On the other hand relying on Hernandez alone (to score and stay fit) plus a fragile Andy Carroll is as thin as it possibly gets up front. The continuing noise about cliques and favourites at the club is indeed worrying.
On the subject of noise, the Manuel Lanzini to Liverpool (as a replacement for Coutinho) refuses to go away. It would be a disaster to lose the team’s only creative player on the last day of the window but I think we need to accept that, even if he stays for now, it is only a matter of time before he is off to seek the brighter lights of European football that he is unlikely to find at West Ham anytime soon.
There have been a few new West Ham targets to emerge in the media over the last few days. These include diminutive striker Abdul Majeed Waris from just down the road at Lorient (oh, not the Barry Hearn one!) and a loan deal for Barcelona central midfielder Andre Gomes. My sense is that if there is any business done today then it is more likely to be loans than permanent deals. Maybe a loan for Jack Wilshere could be on the cards.
I am always open to a touch of shock and awe in the transfer window and so will not be able to resist sitting by the computer, impatiently refreshing the deadline day news-feeds to see which players have been spotted changing trains at Canning Town or going into a Pie and Mash in the Roman Road with the Sullivan family. If the Board could just see their way clear to bringing in William Carvalho and Moussa Dembele (every club needs a Dembele) then I am prepared to upgrade my transfer window assessment from ‘Slightly Disappointed’ to ‘Quietly Encouraged’.