West Ham could kick off transfer window in style by landing free-scoring La Liga striker

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West Ham have once again been linked with one of Spain’s most impressive strikers - but is he really coming to the London Stadium at last?

For two years now, two rumours have gone around the London Stadium with the kind of regularity that Swiss watchmakers can only aspire towards – firstly, that David Moyes would be relieved of his duties as West Ham United manager, and secondly that the Hammers would be signing Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri. Well, one has finally happened… so how about the other?

The Moroccan striker has only one year left on his current deal in Andalucia and neither club nor player seem especially interested in extending it. It seems likely he will finally leave after several windows in which he has been linked repeatedly with a move to London. Football Insider are among the outlets to suggest that West Ham will be in the hunt for his signature once more, so if a move does finally come to fruition, how would En-Nesyri fit in at the London Stadium, and what could he offer incoming manager Julen Lopetegui?

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In many ways, the 26-year-old is a very straightforward player to assess – he’s a classical number nine, an out-and-out striker, who is very good at scoring goals but contributes precious little else to the cause. Around the six-yard box, he’s lethal. Everywhere else, he’s closer to a liability. But that might be precisely what West Ham need.

En-Nesyri has spent four full seasons at Sevilla since signing from CD Leganés back in 2020, and the returns have been mixed. He scored 18 La Liga goals in his first full campaign and has 15 in 2023/24, but managed just 13 in the two years in between. That may set a few slight alarm bells ringing – the five goals he managed in 2021/22 is a little concerning on paper – but digging deeper into the stats behind his fallow years paints the Morocco international in a better light.

En-Nesyri is not the kind of striker who creates many of his own chances, and nor for that matter does he set many up for others – he’s averaged slightly less than one assist a year at Sevilla. But give him service and he scores. So his five-goal season might sound problematic, but his team-mates only provided him with 5.6xG’s worth of chances. Eight the season after came off 8.1xG. And this year, he’s been at his absolute best, scoring those 15 goals off of just 10.1xG.

So by the raw numbers, he seems like an exceptional finisher, but watching him play shows a skill-set that goes beyond his ability to place the ball into the back of the net. He’s physically exceptional and uses his strength and speed extremely well, often forcing his way into half-spaces and losing his man at the last moment to open up chances. He’s also excellent in the air and although not remarkably tall, six of his goals this season have come with his head.

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In other words, he’s a fox in the box and has the movement and shooting skills to feast on good service – something West Ham should be able to provide through players like Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus. But he really doesn’t offer much in the build-up – he’s not a good passer, has an astonishingly poor success rate when dribbling, and creates very little. He is, at least, good in a high press, working hard and generating a healthy number of turnovers, but at the end of the day you sign him to score goals and expect little else.

With Danny Ings and Michail Antonio both possible departures this summer, a number nine will be a priority one way or the other – but is En-Nesyri really their primary target, or is this just a case of media outlets recycling an old rumour? There’s nothing inherently implausible about it, but it’s worth noting that other outlets on the continent have reported AC Milan to be interested, along with Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal. West Ham could easily be blown out of the water by the competition if they do enter the race, and his impressive season will have made getting hold of him a little bit harder.

It's also worth noting that West Ham have a new manager on the way and since they were first linked with En-Nesyri, a new director of football too in the form of Tim Steidten. It’s possible that the club have long since moved on from the Moroccan and are focusing on other targets entirely.

Only time will tell – but if West Ham do manage to make a successful bid, they will get an extremely efficient striker who will score them goals if given the right support, and that’s precisely what they need to step up to the next level.

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