Ranking the 49 forwards signed in West Ham’s Gold & Sullivan era
West Ham United have signed a quite astonishing 49 forwards since David Gold and David Sullivan bought the club in January 2010 – and the vast majority of them have been pretty useless.
We’re not including the likes of Dimitri Payet and Ravel Morrison, playmakers pushed into more advanced supporting roles, or those like Domingos Quina and Robert Snodgrass who began in advanced roles before dropping into midfield.
However, the 48 includes number nines, second strikers and attacking wingers – some substantially more successful than others.
49. Mido (Loan from Middlesbrough, February 2010)
Considering a number of these players never even made a matchday squad, it takes a lot for someone who actually did play to finish bottom.
However, Mido’s contribution – no goals and a missed penalty – is undoubtedly a net negative. He famously earned just £1,000 per week at West Ham, but even that felt a bit steep.
48. Benni McCarthy (Undisclosed from Blackburn Rovers, February 2010)
An absolute car crash of a signing, with the South African scoring no goals and only leaving after being paid off handsomely by the club. He also started an enjoyably petty feud with Karren Brady that rumbles on to this day.
He’s ahead of Mido only because he stuck around a little longer, though I’m starting to wonder if that should actually count against him.
47. Jordan Hugill (£10m from Preston North End, January 2018)
Signed due to David Moyes’ twice-weekly pangs of nostalgia for all things Preston, Hugill played a grand total of 22 competitive minutes for the club. He scored in a friendly, at least.
Hugill was quietly bundled off to Norwich in 2020 and both parties agreed never to speak of the experience again.
46. Joe Dixon (Unattached, January 2012)
Literally no idea who this person is.
45. Luka Belic (Free from OFK Beograd, September 2015)
Apparently not the guy from GTA IV.
44. Wellington Paulista (Loan from Cruzeiro, January 2013)
Brazilian forward who impressed in his homeland but never made an appearance for West Ham.
Not to be confused with Wellington Silva, a Brazilian forward who impressed in his homeland but never made an appearance for Arsenal.
43. Jaanai Gordon (Undisclosed from Peterborough United, January 2014)
The closest he got to a first-team game was an appearance on the bench in a 5-0 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest. Make of that what you will.
42. Sean Maguire (Undisclosed from Waterford United, January 2013)
Seems to be doing okay for Preston but never got a game for West Ham. Only this high by virtue of sharing his name with an EastEnders actor.
41. Brian Montenegro (Loan from Deportivo Maldonado, August 2011)
One of two (two!) strikers loaned by West Ham from Deportivo Maldonado, a Uruguayan second-tier team who have had the likes of Alex Sandro and Gerónimo Rulli on their books without either player having ever turned out for their first team.
Apparently, he played 12 minutes in a cup game. He also holds the distinction of being part of the Leeds United loan 100.
40. Oladapo Afolayan (Undisclosed from Solihull Moors, January 2018)
Spent time at Chelsea as a kid (that’s good). Yet to come remotely close to the first-team squad (that’s bad).
39. Mladen Petric (Unattached, September 2013)
Signings outside the transfer window always come with that caveat of no one else wanting them, so everything else is a bonus.
There was no bonus with Petric, who was on the losing side in each of his three sub appearances in the league and didn’t even last until January.
38. Marouane Chamakh (Loan from Arsenal, January 2013)
Managed one league start, in a game where West Ham failed to win at home to a QPR team that picked up 25 points all season.
Then moved to Crystal Palace, where he scored the only goal of the game in a win over West Ham. I hope seagulls use his oil-slick haircut as target practise.
37. Marco Borriello (Loan from Roma, January 2014)
Scored 12 Serie A goals the season before joining West Ham, and netted 16 for Cagliari in 201-17. His West Ham stats? Two games. No goals. One shot. Bumped up for his 100% win ratio.
36. Nene (Unattached, February 2015)
A great player in his day but was never going to benefit from joining a West Ham team managed by dead man walking Sam Allardyce. Almost had one special moment against Crystal Palace, but didn’t.
35. Pablo Barrera (£4m from Pumas UNAM, July 2010)
A good player who just failed to settle in London. More a winger than a striker, his final tally of *counts on fingers* zero goals still isn’t ideal.
He looked alright in that 5-1 cup win over Burnley, but then again everyone did.
34. Mesaque Dju (Free from Benfica, January 2019)
He might eventually be good. Honestly, who knows?
33. Nikica Jelavic (£3m from Hull City, September 2015)
It’s a damning indictment of West Ham’s transfer business that there are more than a dozen players worse than the Croatian.
Scored a winner against Wolves in the cup but also led the line in a borderline unwatchable goalless draw with Swansea that must be in the bottom five Premier League matches of the century.
32. Martin Samuelsen (Free from Manchester City, July 2015)
Looked good in his first pre-season and on loan at Peterborough, but you always had the sense it won’t work out for him in E20.
Now at Hull City, which would suggest his good first impression was also extremely fleeting.
31. Toni Martínez (Undisclosed from Valencia, July 2016)
If this was based on the opinions of dads on phone-ins, Martínez would be number one.
Easy to forget his only appearances for the club came in FA Cup ties against Shrewsbury and Wigan, and this relatively high ranking is based on a combination of outrageous under-23 goalscoring exploits, a few games at Oxford, and Dave on 606’s intuition.
30. Xande Silva (£1.35m from Vitoria, August 2018)
His first name is apparently pronounced like the Pokémon Chansey, which is just adorable. One for the future, and it’s hard to judge a man on barely 90 minutes of first-team football.
29. John Carew (Free from Aston Villa, August 2011)
One of five substitute strikers on a five-man bench in a defeat to Derby in 2011, which is remarkable in its own right. He did at least score a couple of goals in the Championship, but a player of his build and pedigree ought to have been capable of more at that level.
28. Albian Ajeti (£8m from Basel, August 2019)
No one could tell you a single thing about Albian Ajeti’s time at West Ham, which immediately puts him as an advantage over a lot of people. Has a twin brother called Adonis, which must be pretty dispiriting for anyone.
27. Sam Baldock (Undisclosed from MK Dons, August 2011)
Four goals in back-to-back home matches was a great start, but that’s as good as it got for a player who was never likely to stick around after promotion.
26. Modibo Maiga (£4.7m from Sochaux, July 2012)
West Ham turning a profit on Modibo Maiga is a good example to use when justifying magicians never revealing their secrets.
He was the biggish-money attacking recruit after promotion and somehow stuck around for more than three years. Not very good, but we’ll always have those 10 minutes at White Hart Lane.
25. Simone Zaza (Loan from Juventus, August 2016)
Zaza is clearly a good footballer, as proven by 95% of what he’s done while not playing for West Ham. Sadly all we have to show for his time in England is a botched two-on-two and several failed bicycle kicks.
Attempting more bicycle kicks after failing so many times is enough to elevate him above strikers who actually did some goals. I’ve absolutely got my priorities right here, shut up.
24. Jonathan Calleri (Loan from Deportivo Maldonado, August 2016)
You’re standing in the middle of the goal, about eight yards out, with only Shay Given to beat. Do you sidefoot the ball home? Do you f*ck.
You try a rabona, hit it straight at Given, and head back to – yes, you guessed it – Deportivo Maldonado at the end of the season.
For a player whose second touch was often a tackle, his hat-trick against Wolves in the Europa League for Espanyol saw countless pairs of eyebrows require planning permission in a different postcode.
23. Emmanuel Emenike (Loan from Fenerbahce, January 2016)
You might think including a striker with no league goals ahead of 20 others implies West Ham haven’t got a clue about strikers. And you’d be right.
Still, his hold-up play in a huge 1-0 win over Spurs is worth at least one goal, which – fittingly, is the final tally Calleri achieved in four more league games.
22. Robbie Keane (Loan from Tottenham Hotspur, January 2011)
It wasn’t his fault that he walked into one of West Ham’s worst ever squads, or that he barely contributed.
21. Nicky Maynard (Undisclosed from Bristol City, January 2012)
A good striker, who was on the losing side just once in his 17 games for West Ham. Not good enough for the Premier League, but we got our money back, so no harm done.
20. Ashley Fletcher (Free from Manchester United, July 2016)
He tried hard, okay.
19. Lucas Perez (£4m from Arsenal, August 2018)
Yeah, this says a lot more about the others than it does about him.
18. Sebatien Haller (£45m from Eintracht Frankfurt, July 2019)
Okay, there’s an argument that Haller should be much lower on this list.
The sixth most expensive striker in Premier League history has a permanently moody look on his face, which plenty of West Ham fans have replicated while watching him play.
Still, with each overhead kick we refuse to give up hope.
17. Frederic Piquionne (Undisclosed from Lyon, July 2010)
Stuck around until 2013, somehow. No, really.
Piquionne was actually pretty decent in his first season as a West Ham player, though that red card for celebrating what ended up not being a winning goal was pretty stupid.
Somehow looked worse playing at a lower level in a more successful team.
16. Sofiane Feghouli (Free from Valencia, July 2016)
The winger took a long time to get going but ended up being a big part of enjoyable wins over Crystal Palace and Burnley. You might accuse me of confirmation bias here, but it’s not that: it’s just everyone else being absolute garbage for the most part.
15. Andriy Yarmolenko (£17.5m from Borussia Dortmund, July 2018)
A lot rests on whether he fully recovers from that snapped Achilles tendon, but the karaoke Arjen Robben has already done more than some expected of a player who, if we’re being frank, it never happened for at Borussia Dortmund.
Thankfully he got injured before that awful ‘Yarnie’ nickname could catch on.
14. Carlton Cole (Unattached, October 2013)
If we were dealing with Cole’s entire time at West Ham, he’d be much higher, but we’re sticking to Gold & Sullivan signings.
That means looking only at his second spell, after being brought back on a free in October when no one wanted him and no other forward would join West Ham (well, except Mladen Petric, but we’ve been over that).
His last goal for the club came in a vastly memorable 2-2 FA Cup draw with Everton, best known for Adrian’s winning penalty. Thanks for everything, Carlton.
13. Ilan (Free from Saint-Etienne, February 2010)
Scored the goals to keep us up and then vanished forever, like an unnaturally square-headed wizard. Allegedly has three Brazil caps, which I find impossible to believe.
12. Andre Ayew (£20.5m from Swansea City, August 2016)
It took a while, but Ayew briefly looked like the player West Ham signed from Swansea for a club-record fee. That didn’t last, though, and soon enough he went back to South Wales and everyone just pretended it never happened.
Had a tidy knack for popping up with goals from close range, even if he did miss against Liverpool from basically on the goalline.
11. Enner Valencia (£12m from Pachuca, July 2014)
Valencia had some great moments, including a stunning debut goal against Hull and one of West Ham’s best ever non-Payet free-kicks against Bournemouth.
Am I biased from having been sat directly behind the Ecuadorian as he hit that dead ball at the Vitality Stadium? A resounding maybe.
10. Javier Hernandez (£16m from Bayer Leverkusen, July 2017)
Chicharito is clearly one of the best finishers West Ham have had in the Premier League era, but have you seen him ever do anything else? Was sold to make room for Albian Ajeti, proving that West Ham a truly an asylum run by its resident lunatics.
9. Mauro Zarate (Undisclosed from Velez Sarsfield, May 2014)
Zarate did some brilliant things, from his debut volley at Palace to his winner against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, but the Argentine frankly didn’t score enough goals.
Won a penalty for Watford against West Ham in 2016-17, because that’s how football narratives work.
8. Victor Obinna (Loan from Internazionale, August 2010)
Imagine having a player set up all four goals in a 4-0 win over Manchester United and then freeze him out while battling relegation that same season. Welcome to ‘West Ham United: The Sitcom’.
7. Jarrod Bowen (£20m from Hull, January 2020)
For a man who appears more Rugby League than footballer, Bowen has made an impressive impact since his arrival.
Injecting some pace into a previously trundling side, Bowen’s dribbling ability and eye for goal has made him that rare being: an astute West Ham signing.
Has the potential to rise even higher on this list.
6. Andy Carroll (Loan then £15m from Liverpool, August 2012)
The prospect of West Ham having a £35million striker sounds preposterous before you realise (a) Carroll cost the club less than half as much as that and (b) no one has ever considered Andy Carroll a £35million striker apart from Kenny Dalglish.
Would have been a lock for the top five if he’d left after three or four years, but has slipped down after his final two seasons resulted in a total of four goals. He’ll still probably be looked back on as an overall success, but it’s hard to look at him that way now.
5. Diafra Sakho (£3.5m from Metz, August 2014)
More good than bad, although leaving his second £200,000 Lamborghini at the club’s training ground (after writing off the first) isn’t perhaps the best way to endear yourself to Essex’s finest.
4. Ricardo Vaz Te (Undisclosed from Barnsley, January 2012)
Scorer of the promotion-winning goal, and that one against Spurs where he hit the ball straight at Hugo Lloris only to fall over and accidentally knock in the rebound while lying on the ground.
Still not sure which of the two was more enjoyable, and I can’t even say ‘the one that resulted in special club merchandise being released’ because we’re the kind of joke club that did that for both, somehow.
3. Marko Arnautovic (£24m from Stoke City, July 2017)
Despite a very slow start, Arnautovic’s run of form under David Moyes and at the start of Manuel Pellegrini’s reign gave West Ham a striker who you always believed was capable of finding the net. Even the manner of his exit can’t really take away from the fact that he often felt too good for what was – at least during Moyes’ spell – a struggling club.
Also places high due to his hilarious ‘loyalty’ video after not being granted a move to China, in which the Austrian definitely did not have a gun held to his head.
2. Michail Antonio (£6m from Nottingham Forest, September 2015)
We’ve just about forgiven his failure to keep the ball in the corner at Crystal Palace in 2017.
Antonio has morphed into one of those strikers ‘defenders hate to play against’. Was the league’s top goalscorer during Project Restart and has a knack for eye-catching goal celebrations (our personal favourite was the invisible camel riding at Tottenham).
In a world full of d*ckheads, we need to protect Michail Antonio at all costs.
1. Demba Ba (Undisclosed from Hoffenheim, January 2011)
Yes, my number one pick only played 12 league games for West Ham, but those 12 games saw him crowned the club’s top scorer for the whole season.
I know what you’re thinking, that’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard. Wrong.
The new stupidest thing you’ve ever heard is West Ham including a clause in Ba’s contract allowing him to leave on a free if the club got relegated, only to have second thoughts and try (and fail) to give him a new deal in the second tier.
Obviously he went on to score 29 league goals in 54 games for Newcastle.
Ba is the most eye-catching striker to play at West Ham this decade, and our failure to keep him on board for more than five months is, to use a technical term, dumb as hell.
By Tom Victor