Was the signing of Nikica Jelavic a good move for West Ham?
West Ham United and the recently appointed Slaven Bilic certainly paid witness to a rather hectic transfer deadline-day this summer, seeing no less than four new players arriving at Upton Park for the 2015/16 campaign, with only Matt Jarvis subsequently heading out on loan.
The likes of Alex Song and Victor Moses will certainly bring their fair share of Premier League experience to the table this term, with former Nottingham Forest favourite – Michail Antonio – representing the wild card signing among Bilic’s quadruplet of new additions earlier on this month.
However, whilst the majority of West Ham’s deadline-day signings were unanimously praised from the wider footballing community in general this summer, the club’s final last minute acquisition hasn’t exactly received the same amount of attention. In Nikica Jelavic, West Ham ultimately find themselves with a potentially influential new player who could either succeed in impressive style, or fall flat on his face in equal measure. Bet on Jelavic to be West Ham’s top scorer with a welcome bonus for betting on football this season.
So then, will Slaven Bilic regret souring his Croatian countryman at Upton Park this season, or does the signing of Nikica Jelavic actually represent a rather shrewd move from the plucky Hammers?
Well, considering the fact that both QPR’s Charlie Austin, and the now Bundesliga-bound Javier Hernandez, were both heavily linked with a move to the east end this summer – West Ham fans may initially have reason to feel aggrieved over their club’s lack of marquee movement in the striking department. Jelavic is arguably a bottom half Premier League player at the very most, after all.
However, because the Hammers chairmen nonetheless saw fit to sign both Victor Moses and Michail Antonio in addition to the 30-year-old Croatian this deadline-day, Slaven Bilic’s attacking options now remain as strong as they’ve ever been – even without the likes of Austin and Hernandez on board. The newly appointed West Ham boss can already count upon Diafra Sakho, Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet to lead the charge for his side this season, with each of Mauro Zarate, Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll all expected to return form injury in the not too distant future.
Nikica Jelavic therefore represents a back-up option more than anything else for Bilic this term. Had the club signed the former Rangers, Everton and Hull City man as their number one choice up-front for 2015/16, then the alarm bells would in-fact have reason to rightfully ring out. Yet because West Ham have sincerely expanded their level of squad depth over the course of the ever competitive summe months, the bonus signing of Jelavic could actually make a great deal of sense.
The experienced Premier League frontman may not be the quickest striker by any means, but he is a natural finisher to some extent. The physical centre-forward also has a decent level of technical ability that could still see him succeed at the top this season – and as Slaven Bilic has previously managed the 30-year-old both on the international scene with Croatia, as well as domestically at Hadjuk Split – the former Everton man surely won’t take long to settle down in his new surroundings.
Yes, he certainly didn’t set the world alight with Hull City last season when the Tigers eventually faced their relegated fate, but as the Hammers were also heavily linked with now ex-Tottenham Hotspur forward Emmanuel Adebayor towards the end of the summer, West Ham seemingly dodged a bullet in moving for Jelavic over the unpredictable Togolese international. At least Slaven Bilic knows what he’s going to get from his countryman, as opposed to the often frustrating figure of Adebayor.
So then, although the east-enders could have perhaps landed themselves a better asset to bolster their attacking options this term, Nikica Jelavic ultimately symbolizes a good deal for the club at only £2-3 million. This is a low cost move for the Hammers that could potentially work wonders for a little while if circumstances allow.
On the whole though, West Ham’s current squad now looks truly worthy of playing out the club’s final season at the Boleyn Ground – and Jelavic nonetheless remains an important part of that.
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