Why West Ham must not be scarred by past mistakes and need to spend big on strikers again

Goals are the biggest commodity in football and good strikers the most coveted players, but West Ham United have been reluctant to challenge the elite.

Some might argue the Hammers have had their fingers burned by their experiences the last few times they have really pushed the boat out to capture a top striker.

Dean Ashton cost West Ham a then club record £7.25 million from Norwich City back in 2006 - as reported at the time by BBC Sport.

He was a long-term investment and very much in the Alan Shearer mould as his form for the club subsequently proved. But three years later he was forced to retire due to injury aged just 26.

Free signing was club's most expensive ever signing

Around the same time, West Ham shocked the world by signing Carlos Tevez. A cult hero to the club's fans and the man who led from the front during the famous Great Escape from relegation, Tevez left for Manchester United the following summer.

But his signing was to prove one of the most expensive in the history of the east Londoners as West Ham were fined a world record £5.5 million for breaching Premier League rules over third-party ownership of the star.

That was then followed by the award of £35 million in compensation to Sheffield United - who were relegated at the Hammers' expense - which the club has only recently finished paying off nearly 10 years on.

The club's next serious foray into the transfer market for a striker was when they signed Craig Bellamy from Liverpool for £7.5 million to replace the departing Tevez - as covered by the Guardian.

He was well liked by Hammers fans for his tenacious displays but injuries wrecked his time in London and he was eventually sold on to Manchester City for nearly double the money two years later with just seven goals to his name.

And then there was ... Savio

Then came what is probably one of the worst signings in the history of the club, Bellamy's replacement Savio Nsereko. Purchased for around £10 million, as quoted in the Independent, from Italian side Brescia, Savio was hyped up as one of the hottest prospects in European football.

In truth he ended up costing the Hammers £1 million per appearance, none of which saw him score a single goal.

The striker has had 10 clubs since and managed just a single goal in six years.

Struggling with debt and scarred from bad experiences, the Hammers eventually found the courage to splash out on a striker again under David Sullivan and David Gold's stewardship.

That man was Liverpool's Andy Carroll for £15 million - a price quoted by the Guardian for the England international.

But his story is all too familiar and similar to that of Bellamy before him. Great when fit and loved for his passion and no mean skill on the pitch, with the only problem being that he is hardly ever fit.

The big Geordie has become something of an expensive bonus for the Irons and Slaven Bilic will not be able to rely on having him available for the whole season given his record.

You can't cut corners for goals

While these examples show West Ham are perhaps right to be cautious in their hunt for new strikers, it is vital they begin to compete for proven quality again if they want to progress as a club.

They won't get lucky with a Diafra Sakho every time they go into the transfer market.

You simply cannot cut corners at this end of the pitch because it can end up getting you relegated.

Goals are priceless to any team and the owners must continue to provide the resources to find bigger and better players to score them as the move to the Olympic Stadium looms large.

The Hammers have been linked with moves for players who can barely cut it in Serie A, like Mattia Destro and Gervinho, as per the Daily Star.

But they have also been linked with big-money bids for the likes of proven quality Charlie Austin and Loic Remy, as reported by the Daily Mail.

It is the latter kind of business the club must start to get involved in again if they want to move forward and truly compete in the higher reaches of the Premier League in the near future.

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