West Ham United's striking problem over summer transfer policy

Hernandez 2013

West Ham United will be at something of a crossroads over transfer policy this summer if the rumour mill is anything to go by.

The Hammers have dropped like a stone from the Champions League places at Christmas to 11th place since with just two wins in 2015.

Despite starting the season with an embarrassment of riches up front including top scorer Diafra Sakho, £12 million signing Enner Valencia, Argentinian Mauro Zarate, cult hero Carlton Cole and record signing Andy Carroll, West Ham have struggled for goals of late.

As a result the club has been linked with a host of strikers including Marseille's André-Pierre Gignac (Metro), Real Madrid loan star Javier Hernandez (Mirror), Bournemouth's promotion-winning hitman Callum Wilson (Daily Star) and Tottenham Hotspur forgotten man Emmanuel Adebayor (Mirror) to name but a few.

It would hint the club is ready for something of an overhaul up front in the summer.

Carroll cost more than £18m when he signed from Liverpool in 2012. But after a string of lengthy injuries off the back of similar fitness records at Anfield and boyhood club Newcastle, he can no longer be relied upon as a fulcrum for the East Londoners' attack.

That role surely has been and will continue to be filled by new hero Sakho, who has 10 goals in 23 games this season.

Things have not been so easy for Valencia, who has just four goals from 27 appearances in his debut campaign in English football. But he has shown enough to suggest he has a big role to play in West Ham's future and has even been linked with a £20 million move to Chelsea - per the Daily Mail.

Carlton Cole and Mauro Zarate were at the centre of a comical attempt at some late January transfer business by West Ham. Zarate had been shipped out to Queens Park Rangers on loan at the beginning of the winter window and Cole was set for a move to West Bromich Albion right at the death.

But by the end of the window a failed last ditch bid to sign Adebayor from Spurs saw Cole's move cancelled and the club were so desperate they even tried to take Zarate back from QPR. They were prevented in doing so by Premier League rules and Zarate has spent the rest of the season in the reserves at Loftus Road while the Hammers toiled for inspiration.

Should Allardyce remain as West Ham boss in the summer, his preference is to have at least one big target man-type player on the pitch at all times. Should Zarate and Cole leave as part of a shake-up, the club finds itself at a transfer policy crossroads over the direction it wants to take.

Gignac, 29, has 129 goals in his career so far including 18 for Marseille this season, the best return of his career to date. He is available on a free transfer and the Hammers are at the front of the queue according to the Metro.

Hernandez, Real Madrid's goalscoring hero in their Champions League quarter-final against city rivals Atletico, is another who has been heavily linked by the likes of the Mirror. Should the Hammers bring the Manchester United loanee to Upton Park he would undoubtedly be expecting first team football.

Then there is Wilson who has shot to prominence with 19 goals during Bournemouth's fairytale promotion to the Premier League. But Allardyce has today admitted the club would likely have to spend big to land the talented England U21 international, as reported by the Daily Star.

And what of Adebayor? Another big target man. The Hammers will reportedly renew their interest in bringing in the African star on a free this summer after Spurs chairman Daniel Levy personally blocked his move in January.

If the club does decide to pursue the rumoured targets, it will mean a clearing of the decks in the forwards department. But do they go with tried and tested Premier League players like Adebayor and Hernandez, or take a chance on players like Gignac and Wilson, who are unproven in the English top flight?

Do they go with the free transfer options like Adebayor and Gignac or splash out on players with more years ahead of them like Mexico hitman Chicharito and Wilson?

Indeed, who will even be driving the West Ham bus when the Hammers decide which turn to take at their transfer crossroads? Only two men know all the answers, West Ham's co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold.

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