By Richard Parks
Ian Wright has slammed West Ham mainstays Javier Hernandez and Pablo Zabaleta as “past their prime” in an outspoken verdict of the squad.
In a column in the Sun, the Arsenal legend, who also played for the Hammers at the end of his career, destroyed the club’s recent transfer business as way below par for the 17th richest club in the world.
Wright pointed out how the move to the London Stadium was hailed by co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold as a necessary evil to accelerate the club’s growth and take them into the big time.
“There were vows of taking the Hammers to new heights,” Wright said in the Sun. “Of how they could, hopefully, nudge their way in among the top dogs.
“Yet a quick glance at their transfer business of late suggests anything but that. January, for example, was supposed to herald a couple of big-name arrivals.
“Instead, they got Joao Mario on a short-term loan deal from Inter Milan, Jordan Hugill from Preston and out-of-contract 36-year-old Patrice Evra on a free.
“Yes, I know they spent £24million to sign Marko Arnautovic in the summer, and the likes of Evra, Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Hernandez have all been very good players.
“But the latter pair are past their prime and Arnautovic — while he is clearly very talented — can’t win things on his own.
“Dimitri Payet is a superstar and he was sold. Andre Ayew isn’t but is still decent, and he was sold — to relegation rivals Swansea.”
Football Insider verdict:
Wright is spot on in his analysis of West Ham’s recent business in the transfer market. Sullivan is the man working the phones, doing the deals, negotiating hard with agents and rival clubs, but he is not providing the managers with enough top players. And it is hard to argue with the claim that Zabaleta, 33, and Hernandez, 29, are past their best. The Argentine right-back has been a fine capture on a free, starting 29 of the club’s 30 Premier League matches this season, but he is a stop-gap capture with no sell-on value. Hernandez has struck seven goals from 16 league starts, but his game is no longer ideally tailored to the English top-flight, where his inability to play with his back to goal can make him a liability. He is likely to move to a less demanding division in the summer, with West Ham taking a hit on the transfer fee.
In other West Ham news, the club are on the verge of signing a 25-year-old speed machine.