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The number of reports linking West Ham with the Romanian striker, Ciprian Marica, have increased markedly in the last couple of days. However, the latest such story, in yesterday’s Sunday Express, suggested that we are in direct competition with Arsenal to sign the free agent and will probably lose out to the north-London club. Yet, these ‘Marica to Arsenal’ rumours have been circulating since June and have so far come to nothing. We know that injuries to Podolski, amongst others, have left Arsenal short of strikers and that a free agent could be an interim option. However, is Marica a player that Arsene Wenger would be inclined to target? Does he fit Wenger’s model of the technical attributes that he looks for in a player? Moreover, is the Romanian’s goal scoring record good enough to even warrant Wenger’s interest?
Well, Marica’s agent is certainly doing a good job talking up his client and the prospects of a move to Arsenal. The agent, loan Becali, has declared that Marica as a ‘really great striker, who has already got experience in western European football and so it’s natural that big clubs are eyeing his career. He’s close to joining Arsenal, but we have to wait for the next week.’ Yet, does this description of Marica as a ‘really great striker’ hold water, certainly based on his league and cup scoring record in Romanian and Germany? Basically, he has approximately a 1 in 5 domestic goal scoring ratio, although his international record is better with 22 goals in 63 matches (a 1 in 3 ratio).
It is, however, interesting that not only does Marica start more consistently for his country, but they play him as a centre forward. Both of these factors could explain his better record as an international striker. I may very well be wrong about this, but Marica does not instantly strike me as a typical Wenger signing. As we currently know to our cost, the failure to adequately reinforce during the transfer window means that the player selection criteria might alter slightly once it slams shut. In terms of his preferences for a move, Marica might also prefer moving to a club with involvement in European football. Such a preference would obviously militate against West Ham. Also, much will depend on the terms that Marica is seeking to sign on a Bosman deal. Those terms could possibly prove ‘too rich for West Ham’s blood.’
Time will tell, but even if Wenger is not interested in the player, it has been suggested that there might be competition for his signature, from other sources, in the form of Lazio, Inter-Milan and Shaktar Donetsk. And, who knows, perhaps the reality is that West Ham are targeting some other free agent.
So apparently, the absence of business on deadline day was a case of some you win, some you lose! And we allegedly lost out on three striker targets on the final day, in the form of Romelu Lukaka, Demba Ba and Nicholas Bendtner! That surprises me, because I thought that both Lukaku and Ba were non-starters because the players did not want to move to West Ham; while it was Crystal Palace who were on the verge of signing Bendtner, before Arsenal pulled the plug on the deal with the failure of their bid to land Ba. So, did we really have any realistic chance of signing any of the three? Probably not. Never mind, we can still comfort ourselves with the club’s mantra that we signed some excellent players and completed our business early.
Or perhaps not, because the very fact that the club are casting around for free agent strikers is a clear admission that one bit of key business was not completed early, in fact it was not completed at all! So, why not just be up front and admit it. Say, the club are very pleased with the signings that they did make (which is arguably justified), but unfortunately fell short in its declared objective of signing a 2nd striker.Then explain that while acknowledging this failure, the club are doing everything possible to augment our strike force with a free agent signing, to ensure that results do not suffer in the run up to the next transfer window.
I truly hope that the concerns regarding the current in-depth strength of our strike force prove baseless. And we can, in the period leading up to January, successfully position ourselves to enable us to improve upon last season’s 10th place finish. However, if a lack of fire power does conspire to adversely impacts upon results, and our final league position, then spin will be of little use in pacifying the justified discontent of Hammers supporters.