West Ham’s search for a striker during the summer was no doubt hugely frustrating for the club. Having the best intentions can’t be doubted, West Ham made approaches for players including Alexandre Lacazette, Michy Batshuayi and Carlos Bacca.
There was a wish to go into the Olympic stadium with a star striker upfront, and where West Ham may have fault is spending too much time chasing rainbows, and not enough time scouting and identifying achievable targets who wanted to join the club.
In the end West Ham ended up with Simone Zaza from Juventus, with the Turin club happy to sell given Zaza was surplus to requirements. The player needed a move too, to kickstart his career and become a prominent part of a team, but it was expected he’d prefer to stay in Italy.
Neither being first choice for the other, West Ham and Zaza was a marriage of convenience and Juventus agreed to a loan which would become permanent after a certain number of games. Since then, it’s been widely accepted in Italy that the number of games is 10.
The official Juventus line on it is: ‘Providing Zaza makes a certain number of first-team appearances during the 2016/17 campaign, West Ham will definitively acquire his registration rights for €20 million, to be paid in two financial years.’
Zaza is currently on five and Turin newspaper Tuttosport say they’ve been a miserable five. So miserable in fact that there’s a pessimism setting in which has made people at least consider the worst case scenario: What if West Ham make a decision to prevent from getting to ten games?
Tuttosport say that’s ‘a prospect dreaded by many’.
€20m is nothing for a Premier League striker these days, especially when paid over two years, so something would have be very wrong with Zaza at West Ham for the club to avoid paying it.
If it really is that bad, and this is just speculation in Italy forged by worrying of the worst case scenario, then a January exit would probably be best.
Hopefully, this is all needless anxiety and Zaza starts against Crystal Palace, the ball goes in off his shin, scores again against Sunderland, and he’s off flying.