Veteran striker has hit the top of the scoring charts in Italy as the Hammers continue to flounder in front of goal.
Back when Luca Toni was on his way out of Bayern Munich, West Ham United were linked with a move for the Italian, but while the five years that followed have proven topsy-turvy for both the Londoners and the lanky target man, it’s the latter who is laughing now.
Little was expected of the 36-year-old when he signed for newly-promoted Hellas Verona last summer, following a second stint with Fiorentina in which he managed eight goals in 27 appearances but as the season enters the final few games the World Cup winner is in the form of his life.
A double in Verona’s 4-0 win over Catania this Sunday saw the forward reach the top of the Serie A scoring charts with a tally of 20 goals in the Italian top flight this term – no mean feat when you consider he was plying his trade in the United Arab Emirates with Al Nasr just two years ago.
And his success will be particular hard for West Ham fans to swallow, many of whom had opposed a move for the Italian five years ago when Gianfranco Zola was linked with a bid for the target man.
Toni would have been exactly the kind of Premier League signing you would expect from current Hammers boss Sam Allardyce too, with the former Bolton gaffer famous for bringing ageing stars like Fernando Hierro, Youri Djorkaeff and Fredi Bobic to the then-named Reebok Stadium.
The Londoners have had their problems up front with big-money signing Andy Carroll sidelined for long periods of the season while Carlton Cole – a striker deemed surplus to requirements upon his release in the summer, only to resign when no replacement emerged – has managed just five goals.
Saturday’s 1-0 loss was the second game on the trot in which the Hammers have failed to score in the Premier League and their fourth defeat on the bounce in a result that left them far from safe in the battle against relegation.
Sam Allardyce recently admitted his error in spending so much of the club’s transfer kitty on Carroll over the summer, but perhaps his failing was in not making a move for the kind of bargain basement player he was once known for.
Available over the summer on a free, the allure of the Premier League could have seen Toni move to England and provide the kind of target man necessary to make West Ham tick under Allardyce.
While such comments remain speculative, let’s hope the Italian isn’t the only one celebrating come the end of the season.
Should West Ham have moved for free transfer Luca Toni? And if not him, then who?