“We are already taking steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham United forward in line with our ambitions. We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the Club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next ten days.”
These are the words of Irons chairman David Sullivan, speaking in May 2018 after the close of David Moyes’ short-term contract.
The Scottish manager had kept the Hammers up but was not deemed the long-term choice for growth, and former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini was appointed with an illustrious vision in mind.
Sacked after 19 months. And so returns Moyes. And so, unwittingly, begins that shiny chapter of the London club’s history that reached its apotheosis last June, when the Irons won the Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina.
One of Moyes’ first ports of call following his comeback was to sign Hull City winger Jarrod Bowen in the 2019/20 January transfer market for £20m plus add-ons. Now, four years later, the 60-year-old is looking to repeat the feat.
West Ham eyeing Championship star
According to Football Insider, West Ham are looking to ship on first-team players Said Benrahma and Maxwel Cornet to facilitate a move for Leeds United winger Wilfried Gnonto this month.
The Premier League side are lacking in offensive depth in a quandary that has been exacerbated by the calf injury suffered by Lucas Paqueta, expected to keep the Brazilian out until mid-March.
Gnonto, aged 20, is struggling to earn a regular starting spot under Daniel Farke and could leave by the end of the month, with the Hammers favourites to land the Italy international.
Having been used sporadically this season, Gnonto’s transfer valuation appears to have depreciated and reports from December suggest that he could exit Elland Road for just €15m (£13m).
Why West Ham want Wilfried Gnonto
Gnonto has started just seven matches in the Championship this season – scoring one goal and providing one assist – with just one opportunity from the outset since October.
Farke has sought to set his team up for an instantaneous promotion from the second tier after relegation from the Premier League before the summer and has perhaps been a little ruthless in his treatment of Gnonto, but then with the Whites currently just four points away from automatic promotion, it’s somewhat understandable.
But the young dynamo is undoubtedly a player of immense potential and showcased his qualities to emphatic effect last term, with pundit Tam McManus dubbing him a “pocket rocket” for his energy and fizz in offensive sequences.
In the Premier League last season, Gnonto posted four goals and four assists apiece and impressed with his overall play but was unable to prevent Leeds from slumping to relegation, with his exploits attracting Everton’s attention in the summer, with a series of offers rejected despite the Italian’s official transfer request.
The 13-cap Italy international also ranks among the top 1% of attacking midfielders and wingers across divisions similar to the Championship over the past year for successful take-ons, the top 13% for pass completion, the top 20% for blocks and the top 16% for clearances per 90, as per FBref,
Hailed as an “absolute nightmare for defenders” by talent scout Jacek Kulig, Gnonto perhaps needs a change of scenery to aid him in fully realising his potential in the Premier League, having demonstrated his innate quality for beleaguered-looking Leeds last year.
One of the bright sparks, West Ham have clearly done their homework and are adamant about Gnonto’s future prosperity and now seek to guide him to the fore at the London Stadium.
West Ham pushing to sign “monster” £52m Darwin Nunez clone
David Moyes needs to sign a new high-class striker for his side.
And in doing so, Moyes may well repeat that aforementioned deal to bring Bowen to east London, something that has proved an extraordinary piece of business.
How Wilfried Gnonto compares to Jarrod Bowen
Bowen is considered one of the Premier League’s most dynamic forwards and has been one of the fulcrums of Moyes’ success over recent years, even being heralded for his “unbelievable” performances by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Across 185 appearances, Bowen has scored 54 goals and supplied 36 assists for his teammates, scoring the winning goal as the Hammers won the Conference League last season.
|Premier League 23/24: Top Scorers
|No. of Goals
|West Ham United
|Source: Premier League
Among the most clinical figures in English football right now having signed from the Championship – as Gnonto could himself – Bowen has netted 11 goals from 20 appearances in the top flight while posting 14 goals and five assists across all competitions.
As per FBref, the £120k-per-week ace ranks among the top 20% of positional peers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals, the top 9% for interceptions and the top 11% for aerial battles won per 90.
Given that Gnonto and Bowen share a tenaciousness that allows them to thrive in defensive scenarios, aiding the backline, Moyes might just know what he’s doing with this one.
The former is not earning regular minutes this term but this does not negate his skill set, comfortably one of the most athletic and exciting young wingers currently plying their trade on English soil.
Moyes also plucked Bowen from the second tier, so that’s a trend that’s worth continuing, and both players are natural wingers with a versatile edge to their respective games that allows them to find ample success when fielded in a focal role up front.
It’s unlikely that Gnonto – despite his “electric” talent as described by pundit Sam Parkin – would cement a starring spot in the London Stadium side’s team from the off but he has talents that make him a custom-made fit for Moyes’ counter-attacking style and he could be a deadly weapon off the bench, with a goal to rising to a prominent standing over the coming years.