Bilic building a superb young squad at West Ham

Several English Premier League clubs have already been extremely busy in the transfer market this summer and none more so than West Ham.

The Hammers have recruited six new players, as manager Slaven Bilic continues to build a superb young squad, with the Croatian having began that work immediately after arriving at the club last June.

Bilic preparing for a bright future

Bilic inherited a reasonably strong group of players from his predecessor Sam Allardyce but identified the need to strengthen his squad so as to develop a team capable of playing a more attractive brand of football, as demanded by the club’s supporters.

Subsequently in order to try to achieve that, Bilic signed Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini, Angelo Ogbonna, Pedro Obiang and Dimitri Payet, each of whom played important roles in helping West Ham to finish seventh in the Premier League last season and qualify for the Europa League.

They will enter the competition at the third qualifying round – the first leg of which will take place on 28 July – and play either Shakthyor Soligorsk of Belarus or Slovenia’s Domzale.

Faced with the prospect of having to field a team suitably equipped to handle the demands of competing both domestically and in Europe, Bilic has understandably moved to add new players to his squad, which is now superior to that of last season’s in terms of possessing a greater depth of quality.

Six arrivals so far this summer

As well as the midfield trio of Harvad Nordtveit, Sofiane Feghouli and Gokhan Tore, Bilic has also brought in three youthful strikers in the form of Ashley Fletcher, Toni Martinez and Domingos Quina, with the latter pair having joined the club’s development and academy squad’s respectively.

Subsequently Martinez, who is just 18, and the 17-year-old Quina, will aim to emulate a quartet of West Ham’s current first team squad members, who are Reece Burke, Josh Cullen, Mark Noble and Reece Oxford, in graduating from the club’s youth system before appearing for the Hammers in the Premier League.

The eldest of Bilic’s new first team recruits are the 26-year-old duo of Feghouli and Nordtveit, who signed from Valencia and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively.

Feghouli is an Algerian internationalist who has scored 11 times in 40 appearances for his country, whilst Nordtveit has 28 Norwegian caps to his name and joins the Hammers after having made 200 appearances in the Bundesliga for Monchengladbach, during his five-and-a-half seasons with the club. Prior to that Nordtveit was an Arsenal player and despite not appearing for the Gunners after joining them from Haguesund, he gained valuable first team experience during loan spells with Salamanca, Lillestrom and F.C Nuremberg.

Whereas both Feghouli and Nordveit were signed for free, in order to take Gokhan Tore on a season-long loan from Besiktas, the Hammers are to pay the Turkish Super Lig side a £2.5m fee, whilst having an option to permanently sign the 24-year-old for a further £10m.

After spending the majority of his youth career with Bayer Leverkusen, Tore then moved to Chelsea but was unable to establish himself in the club’s first team. Subsequently the Turkish internationalist has had spells with Hamburg, Rubin Kazan and Besiktas, for whom he was signed by Bilic during the first of the Croatian’s two seasons in charge of the Turkish club. As such Bilic is well aware of Tore’s quality as a talented winger blessed with pace and trickery.

Following the arrivals of Feghouli, Nordveit and Tore, the Hammers also added the 20-year-old striker Ashley Fletcher to his first team squad, after the England U-20 internationalist’s contract with Manchester United came to an end. Fletcher spent the second half of last season on loan at Barnsely, for whom he scored nine times in 27 appearances, including the opening goal in the Tykes 3-1 League One Play-Off final victory over Millwall, to help the club win promotion to the Championship. As a powerful centre forward with a great touch, Fletcher is in the mould of West Ham’s current first choice striker Andy Carroll, who remains the club’s record signing at £15m.

Potential for a further quality signing

However the potential exists for that record to be broken this summer, with the Hammers reportedly interested in signing Columbian striker Carlos Bacca from AC Milan, according to the BBC.

Should they be successful in their pursuit of the 29-year-old, who scored prolifically during both his debut season with Milan and previous spells whilst playing for Club Bruges and Sevilla, then that would represent another wonderful addition to Bilic’s superb young squad, which in terms of talent, can be considered as one of the best in West Ham’s history.

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