By Harry Sykes
Slaven Bilic is targeting an injection of pace in the West Ham squad this summer as he eyes a speed machine up front, according to a reliable journalist.
The Evening Standard’s Hammers correspondent Ken Dyer, who has had close connections to the club for nearly 40 years, claims in a report that the emphasis for the club’s recruitment team is mobile players who can increase the team’s tempo in the forward positions.
One player who fits the bill is Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, who was the subject of a £30million bid from West Ham last summer before eventually moving from Marseille to Stamford Bridge for £33.2million.
Dyer reports that the Premier League leaders could be willing to allow Batshuayi to leave this summer, most likely on a season-long loan.
Batshuayi, 23, has made 24 appearances for Chelsea this season, but all of his 17 matches in the Premier League have come as a substitute.
Southampton striker Shane Long is another striker who could be on the radar of West Ham after slipping down the pecking order despite an injury ruling Charlie Austin out for half the season.
Bilic admitted Batshuayi was one of four key striker targets for his club last summer before they eventually signed Simone Zaza in a loan-to-buy deal that soon turned sour.
“We tried to raise the technical bar by signing players which would have been unthinkable for our club a few years ago,” Bilic told Milan News, as quoted by the website of Sky Italy journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.
“[Alexandre] Lacazette, Zaza, Bacca and [Michy] Batshuayi were on our list but we knew it would be difficult to sign them.
“We initially wanted Zaza but Juve weren’t willing to sell him, then we had Lacazette on our radar as well as Bacca.”
West Ham, who are ninth in the Premier League table, held off from buying a proven goalscorer in the January window despite cashing in on Dimitri Payet.
In other West Ham transfer news, the club have had a sensational £43million striker bid rejected.