Seven West Ham signings who were meant to be the business… but weren’t

Quick Reads

West Ham United are one of English football’s most traditional clubs, with a reputation for attacking football, passionate fans and promoting young players.

They’re also known for their misdemeanours in the transfer market. Often possessing more money than sense, or needing marquee signings to boost season ticket sales, West Ham have often been suckered by players who promised more than they delivered.

Here are seven names that arrived in east London with big reputations that they never came close to fulfilling.

Sebastien Haller

Signed for £45million in 2019, Haller remains the seventh most expensive striker in Premier League history. No further questions, Your Honour.

In all seriousness, the Ivory Coast striker did have his moments at West Ham, including two goals during a win at Watford and a Zlatan-esque bicycle kick against Crystal Palace.

But any team would expect more than 14 goals in 54 appearances for their money, and Haller quickly became the poster boy for West Ham’s profligate transfer policy.

Not even the Moyesiah himself could revitalise Haller as the club decided to cut their losses. Ajax were the beneficiaries, signing the forward for a cut-price fee in January 2021. He’s one goal away from matching his West Ham tally already.

Jack Wilshere

Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to give Wilshere a three-year deal in 2018 must rank as one of the worst business decisions of all time.

Yes, the erstwhile England midfielder was still a talented player upon his arrival at the London Stadium. But the plethora of injuries that prevented him from fulfiling his potential should have represented the reddest of flags.

But hopes remained high as Wilshere appeared in West Ham’s first four games of the 2018-19 season. With depressing predictability, they lost them all, and the boyhood Hammers fan picked up an injury during a home defeat to Wolves.

West Ham’s form picked up in his absence and Wilshere was released in October 2020 having only made 19 appearances for the club.

Simone Zaza

Eleven appearances, zero goals and one £20million obligation to buy expertly swerved by all concerned.

But Zaza’s time in England wasn’t a complete write-off – he contributed one of the great sliced shots of all time with this effort against Manchester United.

Javier Mascherano

The story of West Ham’s signing of Carlos Tevez and Mascherano in 2006 was one that even Del Boy would have considered a bit fishy.

Highlights included a baffled Alan Pardew unveiling the pair looking like a Tudor king that’d just discovered the internet, the season-long threat of a points deduction, Tevez belatedly coming good and saving the club from relegation and the record fine West Ham had to pay Sheffield United in compensation.

What’s often forgotten is that Mascherano played seven times for the Hammers during the 2006-07 campaign. He lost them all.

Having failed to dislodge Hayden Mullins from the first team, the Argentina midfielder escaped to Liverpool at the first opportunity. He fared slightly better at Anfield.

READ: Konchesky: Maybe Mascherano didn’t play at West Ham for political reasons

Florin Raducioiu

You know you’re bad when Harry Redknapp rates you as one of his worst ever signings.

“I worked for a couple of hours with Raducioiu on the first day in training and I must admit he impressed me. He was a quality finisher and I really thought he’d be a success,” Redknapp wrote in his 1998 autobiography.

“But the moment we got into anything physical, he didn’t want to know. He just couldn’t face being tackled in any shape or form. Dicksy (Julian Dicks) was anxious to get stuck into him to see what he was made of, but Raducioiu made it clear that he wouldn’t be challenging for anything.”

The final straw came when the Romania striker, who had impressed at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, failed to turn up for a League Cup tie at Stockport.

Redknapp remembered: “So you can imagine my mood the next day when a friend rang me and told me the previous evening he’d spotted Raducioiu out shopping with his wife in the Harvey Nichols store in London.”

West Ham have a reputation as a striker’s graveyard, but Raducioiu was more disappointing than most.

Luis Jimenez

Not the biggest name, or flop, on this list but Jimenez was a huge disappointment during his time at West Ham during an era when the club couldn’t afford any mistakes in the transfer market

Manager Gianfranco Zola had fashioned a promising side from a budget of two potatoes and a Snickers wrapper, finishing ninth in 2008-09 and just missing out on Europa League qualification.

Jimenez looked an ideal signing for a young side; aged 25 and a regular in the Chile national team, the attacking midfielder looked a canny addition when he arrived on loan from Inter Milan in the summer of 2009.

Eleven appearances and one goal later, Jimenez had his loan terminated early and scarpered back to Italy with Parma. West Ham narrowly avoided relegation and, having replaced Zola with Avram Grant, finished bottom the season after.

READ: Ranking West Ham’s 32 weirdest Premier League signings

Kieron Dyer

The reason West Ham were so hard up was partly due to the 2008 financial crisis and partly because their Icelandic owners had spent their fortune after watching the 2004 episode of Premier League Years.

None of Craig Bellamy, Freddie Ljungberg or Luis Boa Morte lived up to the hype due to either injury or being crap, but Dyer became an emblem of West Ham’s largesse during the Magnusson era.

Signed for £6million, much of the excitement around Dyer’s arrival from Newcastle centred around sharing a dressing room with Lee Bowyer again.

But the midfielder was still in the England squad and represented a step up from West Ham’s other midfield options.

So it was a shame when Dyer was cynically injured during a League Cup match at Bristol Rovers and was instantly ruled out of the remainder of the 2007-08 season.

He only ended up making 35 appearances until his release in 2011, enraging David Sullivan by pocketing £70,000 a week in the process.

Dyer was unlucky with injuries but was probably the least cost-effective signing in West Ham’s history.

By Michael Lee


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