Is This Burnley Star A Decent Option For Bilic or Will He Prove To Be Another Hammers Flop?
West Ham United enjoyed a magnificent 2015-16 Premier League campaign under new boss Slaven Bilic who guided his side to a 7th placed league finish and earned a place in Europa League qualification rounds. However, the Hammers’ move to London Stadium (their new home ground) proved to be a frustrating one as they could not reach the group stages of Europa League and Bilic’s transfer business failed miserably last summer. West Ham were knocked out of a top half finish and the Croatian tactician was heavily criticised for wasting a golden opportunity of registering West Ham as one of the strong contenders for a place in Europe.
The management, however, has kept their faith in Bilic for another campaign and believe that he is the right man who can upturn the Hammers’ fortunes like he did in his debut managerial season in English football. The former Croatian national team boss is cautious over any transfer activity this term and has been looking for proven resources who can immediately create an impact in their respective roles.
Bilic seems keen to bring an outright goal-scorer who can add at least 15 league goals to his name and ready to test Burnley’s resolve for their hitman Andre Gray. A bid of £15million was rejected in winter, but the Hammers boss is hopeful of concluding a deal this time as the Clarets have been frustrated by Gray’s contract situation. The Englishman has refused to extend his stay which runs out next summer. So Burnley boss Sean Dyche might be forced to sell one of his top performers in the coming weeks.
West Ham have been frustrated by never-ending injury concerns of marksman Andy Carroll, whereas the likes of Ashley Fletcher and Jonathan Calleri failed to replace him last season. Michael Antonio was forced to feature in a make-shift forward role and Bilic is keen to add a proven forward prior to the upcoming campaign.
Bilic has shortlisted a few names that include Liverpool striker Daniel Surridge and Cologne forward Anthony Modeste alongside Andre Gray. Sturridge, however, will be staying put with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp for at least another season and Bilic has made a late attempt to bring Modeste (who enjoyed a high-scoring Bundesliga campaign) in after his move to Chinese Premier League broke down last week.
Andre Gray, nevertheless, who netted 9 times in 32 league outings and helped Burnley to avoid a relegation scare in their comeback campaign in the top tier of English football, remains his top transfer target.
The 26-year old is known for his goal-poaching instinct and strong aerial as well as physical presence. Although he had some spells of inconsistency, the Englishman did fairly well in his debut Premier League campaign. Gray, who previously had his spells with several non-league and lower division outfits, might complete the biggest move of his career if the deal takes place in coming days.