There might be some Premier League clubs with a stranger transfer history than West Ham United, but there can’t be too many.
From their 90s heyday under Harry Redknapp to the Gold and Sullivan era with its 42 forwards (actually it’s probably even more than that now), the London club have crammed a lot of nonsense into their time in the top flight.
It was a tough task to trim their weirdest signings down to a mere 32 players. Just to emphasise the job at hand, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano don’t even make the cut.
Thirty-two-year-olds with no experience outside Italy are rarely what you’d call a sure bet for Premier League success, and Di Michele was one of a handful of signings who seemed to lead directly to Alan Curbishley’s exit as manager.
With that in mind, he probably overachieved with four goals in 30 appearances and an important role in Carlton Cole’s goal of the season contender.
Back in January 2016, West Ham were chasing an unlikely Champions League place after three wins in a row, but their task was hampered by Andy Carroll suffering an injury (hard to believe, I know).
With significant reinforcements, they might have been able to sustain their charge – instead the only attacking arrival was Emenike, who had just seen a loan move with Al-Ain terminated early. He scored zero league goals.
Alan Pardew made some strange signings in the Championship, followed by some even stranger ones after promotion to the Premier League.
West Ham wanted a like-for-like replacement when Tomáš Řepka returned to the Czech Republic in January 2006, but we can only assume the decision-makers interpreted this as needing someone who makes up for his deficiencies with pure anger.
It turns out you’re pretty limited when trying to sign free agents outside the transfer window, and it felt like manager Gianfranco Zola was the only person who even remembered Diego Tristán in 2008.
Still, two winners against Tony Pulis’ Stoke meant fans couldn’t have had too many complaints when he left at the end of his first season.
West Ham’s only representative at the 2014 World Cup scored Colombia’s first goal in the competition.
The ‘highlight’ of his time in east London came when he laid out the red carpet for Lukas Podolski’s last ever goals at the Emirates Stadium.
Both signed together from Milan in January 2014. Borriello is best remembered for being disgustingly handsome, while Nocerino is best remembered for warming up pitchside with a puffa jacket draped around his neck like a cape.
Neither extended their half-season loans.
The man of whom Harry Redknapp said “I don’t know whether to play him or to f**k him”.
Ultimately did neither, unceremoniously dropping him in the hope it would bring down the on-loan Portuguese forward’s transfer fee instead of, y’know, making him want to leave forever.
The Brazilian striker actually made a positive impact, but this feels accidental. Four goals. An extremely large head. No contract extension.
It says a lot about a player when he publicly reveals his time at a club convinced him he should have retired instead of joining them.
The longer the Spaniard stayed at the London Stadium, the longer his title of ‘World Cup winner’ felt like a technicality.
Luis Jiménez’s only West Ham goal came in a 5-3 win against Owen Coyle’s Burnley, a game so preposterous it feels like it might have been a collective fever dream.
In fact, the same goes for the Chilean’s entire 11-game stint.
Signing players released by notoriously friendly and accommodating Martin Jol doesn’t even sound like a good move on paper.
That West Ham proceeded to give up on him and instead re-sign Carlton Cole on a free tells its own story.
When would you guess Emmanuel Pogatetz played for West Ham? Towards the end of his Middlesbrough spell, perhaps, after the club’s 2009 relegation?
Nope, 2013. Emmanuel Pogatetz has played Premier League games on the opposite side to Ben Davies, Christian Benteke and Adam Lallana, which just seems off.
The problem with signing players on the strength of that really good Shakhtar team on Football Manager is that you have to watch them play actual football and remove the mystique.
As above, but with even less of the ‘playing football’ part.
Hendrie played 100 times before his 21st birthday and was meant to have a bright future with the Scotland national team.
Then he joined West Ham and was, as far as we can tell, locked in a sealed box in Essex to prevent him either living up to the hype or failing to do so.
Schrödinger’s footballer is now at Southend United, after 30 months and no appearances for West Ham. Yet to make his full Scotland debut, but there’s still time, right? Right?
A really good footballer. Once upon a time.
It’s not just under Gold & Sullivan that West Ham have made confusing attacking signings.
Kepa was brought in by Alan Curbishley in January 2007 and scored on his debut, only for Curbishley to then remember he already had Carlos Tevez at his disposal.
Boffin, a Belgian goalkeeper, made just one Premier League start, in one of those games so bizarre you’re not entirely sure it happened.
Blackburn v West Ham was one of only two Premier League Saturday games to survive the weather in a bitterly cold December 2010, and it was Steve Kean’s first game as a top-flight manager after Sam Allardyce had left Ewood Park.
Boffin shared a pitch that day with Benni McCarthy in his last ever Premier League appearance and a young Mame Biram Diouf in a Blackburn spell remembered only by compulsive liars, before vanishing forever.
Great hair, mind
Király, who is still playing, spent literally two weeks at West Ham on a no-appearances emergency loan deal more than a decade ago as back-up to Rob Green, who is also still playing. For Chelsea? What?
I’ll level with you, I have no idea who this is, but signing a Trinidad & Tobago international from the Bulgarian league and giving him *checks notes* no games ticks a lot of ‘weird signing’ boxes.
Futre giving John Moncur a holiday in his villa in exchange for West Ham’s No.10 shirt is the best swap deal in Premier League history. Don’t @ me.
If West Ham wanted to sign players purely based on their flowing locks they should have at least properly committed to it.
*Looks up at Boffin and Futre* oh, right, fair enough.
It was always a risk for West Ham to sign a striker whose Spurs spell had been cut short by multiple serious knee injuries, but the London-born forward could well have sparked a Declan Rice-style international tussle with Ireland if things had worked out.
As it transpired, he played more times for Ireland’s Under-21s than for West Ham, because that’s how these things normally pan out.
Álvaro Arbeloa was not the first World Cup winner to play for West Ham, but he’s probably the only one whose time at the club you actually remember.
In fact, Lama probably wouldn’t have even made the French squad in 1998 were it not for his loan spell at Upton Park the previous season.
Obviously West Ham forgot to include any sort of clause allowing them to make the move permanent.
Signing a defender who couldn’t get a game in Cyprus was an unorthodox move, to say the least, but maybe West Ham saw Canada international Henry as one for the future.
He played once, in an infamous defeat to Astra which involved Slaven Bilić leaving almost his entire first team squad at home. Now back in Canada, obviously.
Not a Germany international, but a West Germany international. Seeing as West Germany and The Premier League didn’t overlap, that tells you a bit about the striker.
The veteran of the 1988 Olympic Games played a grand total of zero minutes for the club, having arrived as one of the first signings of the Redknapp era.
As Anzhi Makachkala’s struggles began in the 2013-14 season, their best talents were snapped up on the cheap.
Chelsea brought in Willian and Samuel Eto’o. Dynamo Moscow were able to add Christopher Samba to their squad. Lacina Traoré jumped ship for Monaco.
West Ham, meanwhile, signed Abdul Razak, who most people probably didn’t even know had joined Anzhi.
The Ivorian, who came through Manchester City’s academy, played just 11 more times for the Russian club. That’s 11 more than he managed at West Ham.
Plenty of West Ham signings have struggled to settle at the club, and that’s reasonable when they come from such far-flung locales as Canada, Chile or a nation which ceased to exist after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Leaving because you’re homesick for Oxford is a different matter, though.
Beauchamp lasted 58 days at West Ham, playing a grand total of zero games for the club.
One of Harry Redknapp’s pieces of mid-90s business saw him recruit Peter Shilton, a man just two years his junior. Harry Redkanpp retired from playing football in 1982 and signed Peter Shilton in 1996.
We believe Shilton is the only player born in the 1940s to make a Premier League matchday squad, and with good reason: even if another player was born on the final day of that particular decade and made a squad on the first ever Premier League weekend, he would have been 42 years old at the time.
Shilton was 45 when he sat on the bench against Leeds United and Manchester United, hoping against hope that Luděk Mikloško didn’t force him into action.
You’d have thought West Ham would be hesitant about signing Chileans after what happened with Margas.
Signed after the 1998 World Cup, the centre-back disappeared without a trace early in his Hammers career, only to return and demonstrate his loyalty by dying his hair Claret and Blue.
Spoiled the weirdness by sticking around for a whole three years, then ramped it back up (and then some) by spending 13 million pesos on an armoured car once owned by General Pinochet, of whom Margas admitted to being a “great admirer”.
He went on to fake his own kidnapping. No further questions, Your Honour.
By Tom Victor