The inspired £20m signing that could fire West Ham United’s European push
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It has been a solid first two months to the season for David Moyes and West Ham United. The 2-2 draw they claimed against Newcastle United in their final game before the international break ensured the Hammers will return to action at Aston Villa on Sunday sat in the top ten of the table.
After losing just two of their opening eight league fixtures and securing Europa League wins against Backa Topola and Freiburg, there are high hopes the momentum will continue into what remains a potentially thrilling season for the Hammers.
Thoughts are already turning towards how Moyes could strengthen his squad during the January transfer window and it seems likely his primary focus will be at the top end of the pitch as he looks to add further firepower to his ranks.
Jarrod Bowen is currently top scorer in the Hammers squad with five goals so far this season but main striker Michail Antonio has just two goals and Danny Ings is yet to find the net. A number of strikers have been linked with a move to the London Stadium and there is one that stands out as a potentially shrewd addition after proving himself in La Liga, the Europa League, Champions League and at international level.
During his time at Sevilla, Morocco international Youssef En-Nesyri has become a two-time Europa League winner and has found the net 58 times in 165 appearances for the La Liga side. The 26-year-old was also a key part of Morocco’s historic run to the World Cup semi-finals last year as he scored two goals in seven games in Qatar as his side became the first African nation to reach the last four of the competition.
So could En-Nesyri be the man to bring something different to the Hammers striking options?
What has been said about En-Nesyri’s ability?
It is perhaps significant that Hammers boss Moyes has praised the striker over the last 12 months. Writing in his World Cup column during last winter’s tournament in Qatar, the Scot wrote: “In Youssef En-Nesyri they (Morocco) have a centre forward who is an incredible good runner and gives them an outlet.”
Twelve months earlier, when the Sevilla star was linked with Arsenal, former Gunners striker Kevin Campbell said: “Good player, really good. For me, he would definitely come in and carry a threat. I will tell you that much. He will carry a threat top end of the pitch. He has good size, speed, knows where the goal is, he is skilful.”
And there was further praise from former Liverpool forward Nabil El Zhar, who featured alongside En-Nesyri at international level as he said: “He is a very good player. He is a player who could do very well at Liverpool. He is quick, he runs a lot, he has a high speed, intensity, pressing the ball and is always moving on the pitch. He’s a very interesting player.’
“He is a very good guy, too. When he came to Leganes, he was like a kid, and he was always listening to advice. He is a quiet guy who respects everyone and a great professional.”
What has En-Nesyri said about his future?
Speaking midway through last season as Sevilla battled against what would have been a shock relegation from La Liga, the striker addressed interest from several clubs around Europe via his Instagram account.
He said: “I thank all the clubs who’ve contacted my agent. Right now I want to focus on Sevilla. It isn’t about money. It’s a sporting matter, wanting to help the team in the worst moments. I had the chance to leave at other times and said no too.”
How do his stats compare to West Ham United’s current strikers?
It probably won’t be a surprise to learn En-Nesyri outperforms the likes of Michail Antonio and Danny Ings when it comes to a striker’s main currency so far this season.
The Sevilla star has netted five goals in ten appearances in all competitions, compared to Antonio’s two goals in nine games and Ings is yet to find the net in eight appearances across the Premier League, Carabao Cup and Europa League.
If we take that comparison across the entirety of last season, En-Nesyri outscores both Hammers stars with 18 goals in 48 appearances compared to ten goals in 43 games and Antonio’s 14 goals in 48 games.
Comparing other statistics across the 2022/23 season sees the Morocco international falls short of his potential team-mates when it comes to shot-creating actions, goal-creating actions, pass completion average, take-ons, ball carries and touches in the attacking third.
That means he may need some time to adapt to life as a Hammer should Moyes make a move for his services during the January transfer window.