The £25m striker that will need to improve to become the player that West Ham need this summer

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
West Ham have been linked with a striker from Spain - but can he get enough goals to be worth signing?

West Ham United have made a frantic start to the summer transfer window. Director of football Tim Steidten’s efforts to cement some Brazilian connections have yielded some possible results, not least the stop-start signing of Luis Guilherme, but a bid for Flamengo defender Fabrício Bruno collapsed at the last minute and one key position remains unaddressed – that of a new number nine.

The club tried and failed to find a central striker to replace the ageing Michail Antonio and Danny Ings last summer, and it remains a priority for new manager Julen Lopetegui. The club need someone who can score goals and do the rest of the traditional work of a centre-forward to give the likes of Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus something more to work with. So it’s no surprise to see reports from Spain linking the Hammers with a bid for Celta Vigo striker Jørgen Strand Larsen – but is the towering Norwegian the right man for the job?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was Sport Witness that spotted the reports that West Ham were sniffing around Strand Larsen, and they reckon that it would take a bid of around €30m (£25.3m) to take the 24-year-old, who has three goals in 14 games for his country, from Galicia to the London Stadium. That isn’t an especially colossal amount in the modern game, of course, but you still demand goals for that kind of outlay – and if West Ham want to get back into Europe next year, then they can’t afford to miss.

And Strand Larsen is no Erling Haaland, despite the rather reductive comparisons that have followed him for the last few years. He scored 13 for Celta last season from an xG of 14.5, which is encouraging if not necessarily exceptional, but the season before, after Celta signed him from Dutch side FC Groningen for €12m (£10.1m), he managed just four in 32 La Liga appearances.

Still, while he isn’t necessarily particularly prolific, he has other qualities. Standing at 6’4” and powerfully built, Strand Larsen is a big man and his appearance does him justice – he is excellent at using his outsized frame to bully defenders, is strong in the air and he holds the ball up very well. In essence, he does what he appears to say on the tin – but also rather more.

He's got good off-the-ball movement and a surprisingly decent turn of pace, allowing him to slip away from defenders down the channels and while he’s obviously naturally built to be a classical number nine, he does also play on the right wing as a wide target man from time to time. His game isn’t quite as one-dimensional as first impressions may suggest.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He does have some deficiencies, however. He isn’t a great technician and his touch and passing game can let him down (he ‘boasted’ a pass completion rate of just 68.4% last season) and that does rather blunt his effectiveness as a hold-up man. Simply put, he’s a very decent goalscorer but less impressive as a creator even though his style of play naturally lends itself to making quick lay-offs in and around the area.

All of which can be forgiven if he scores plenty of goals, of course, but one wonders whether there’s evidence that he can score enough. He’s hit double figures twice in six full seasons as a senior player (14 for Groningen in 2021/22 is his high watermark) and averages nearly one goal’s worth of xG every two full matches he plays, but it’s doubtful whether he would work out as a 15-20 goal striker in the Premier League – and that’s surely what West Ham need to push on in the post-David Moyes era.

If Strand Larsen was being signed as a rotational player or someone who could come off the bench and offer a more physical threat, that would make a lot of sense, as it would if West Ham were convinced that his link-up play and all-round game could be improved – but if he’s their primary target as number one centre-forward next season, it feels like a relatively lukewarm target to aim at. Not a bad one, necessarily, but it’s hardly shooting for the moon. Strand Larsen feels like a player who is one or two attributes away from being worth that €30m lay-out – and on paper, West Ham probably need to be a little more ambitious.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.