January Transfer Blueprint: West Ham


***The Transfer Blueprint series details what each Premier League club should be looking for as the January window approaches. Comment below with your own thoughts about what each club should acquire***

Our January Transfer Blueprint Series continues today with one of the Premier League’s most surprising teams of the season, West Ham. The Hammers currently occupy the third position in the League table with 20 points through 10 games. If they are to maintain their lofty position they will surely have to do serious work in the January transfer window.

What They Should Buy: West Ham is one of the most difficult teams to evaluate in this series, because their success has largely been a result of the team’s collective. Aside from Dimitri Payet, who has been an absolute stud, they aren’t blessed with a ton of other standout players. This makes their evaluation complicated as well as their path to strengthening in January.

They two have two spots on the pitch where I think they could make upgrades pretty easily. While I like Aaron Cresswell personally, he’s been suspect at left back so far this year. He has the lowest Whoscored.com rating among their regular starters and could be improved upon at a relatively low-cost.

The other spot where I’d make a like-for-like move would be to improve the situation at keeper. I don’t trust Adrian and he’s had a few absolute nightmare games already this year. It can be tricky to identify a keeper who can plug-in midway through the year but I think it’s a gamble worth taking for West Ham.

While these moves would improve their side marginally, I don’t think they are the types of transactions that can keep them in the top four. That’s a much more difficult task. To maintain their position, they need to add true difference makers in the side.

The place they should really look to make that bold move would be in the defensive midfield. Cheikhou Kouyate has been brilliant to begin the season, but I wouldn’t bet on him keeping this level of play up all year-long.

More from Premier League

Mark Noble has also been excellent through ten games and I know I might get some stick for this, but I don’t believe in him either. Adding an above average midfielder in the pivot could really stabilize West Ham and allow them to easier keep possession. That will be the key catalyst to keeping Payet and Lanzini going.

Some pundits would say that relying on Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll up front is risky but I disagree. I like the combination and feel they both give the attack something dangerous and different. Carroll, of course, is a health risk, but you have to take that gamble. West Ham is stocked with quality at every position. The trouble is it might just be a tick below the high level of quality that’s required to stay in the top four.

What They Should Sell: There is some deadwood on the squad that could help fund more proactive purchases. Players like Nikica Jelavic don’t have much use for a squad with such ambitious aspirations. They work well for the “old West Ham” ideal, but not for what they’re trying to achieve with their new project.

What They Will Do: What they need to do is to make some bold purchases to really go for a top four position. Unfortunately, I don’t have much confidence in this happening. What they will do is make some average purchases to patch some potential holes and provide cover to their players with injury concerns.

The danger is the Hammers will continue to rely on the awesome level of play that some of their best players have displayed through ten games. Expecting Payet, Lanzini, etc to hold their spectacular level of play through an entire season may cost them dearly in the end.