West Ham’s banter era of strikers: a horrible history of filthy, filthy dross

Sebastien Haller
(Image credit: Getty)

Marko Arnautovic was arguably West Ham United's biggest attacking success of the last decade or so. When you consider that he got sent off in his second appearance, took 14 games to score his first goal and left under a cloud after just two seasons, that gives you a good idea of how well the rest have done.

Sebastien Haller, the £45m Eintracht Frankfurt signing designed to catapult the Irons into Europe, is also leaving, according to reports. So here’s a guide to exactly what we’re dealing with. The worst part is that nobody has been left out, save for the likes of Alessandro Diamanti and Savio Nsereko who were more ‘forwards’ than ‘strikers’ (if we’re being incredibly generous in the latter’s case).

And so we begin with...

Albian Ajeti, summer 2019 (£8m)

Apps: 12 • Goals: 0

23-year-old Swiss hitman Ajeti only played nine times in the league for the Hammers but failed to hit the back of the next in any appearance. He was flogged to Celtic just 12 months later, where he has fared considerably better, scoring five in his first 10 league appearances. 

Sebastien Haller, summer 2019 (£45m)

Apps: 53 • Goals: 14

While Real Madrid broke the bank for Eintracht Frankfurt's Luka Jovic, West Ham made his strike partner Haller their record signing in 2019. Both have underwhelmed at their respective destinations, and Haller is now set for pastures new.

Lucas Perez, summer 2018 (£4m)

Apps: 19 • Goals: 6

Bought for £4m and sold at a loss. In a market where £4m gets you 20% of Tyrone Mings.

Jordan Hugill, winter 2018 (£8m)

Apps: 3 • Goals: 0

Bought with the anticipation of being able to do a job in the Championship if West Ham were relegated in 2018. A rare display of forward-planning.

Javier Hernandez, summer 2017 (£16m)

Apps: 63 • Goals: 17

Javier Hernandez, West Ham

Thought to be the highest-paid player at the club, in a team whose game is based on high pressing with fluid attacking midfielders supporting a striker willing to chase down defenders and use his strength. Can we remind you that, yes, it’s that Javier Hernandez.

Chicharito left to go to Sevilla after three meagre years before soon swapping Spain for California, heading to LA Galaxy as Zlatan's replacement.

Ashley Fletcher, summer 2016 (Free)

Apps: 20 • Goals: 1

Seems like a nice enough lad. Doesn’t seem like a Premier League striker, but we guess that’s what you get when you move for someone off the back of, er... some goals in the League One play-offs? 

Andre Ayew, summer 2016 (£20.5m)

Apps: 50 • Goals: 12

Club-record signing. Injured on his debut and came back into a confused squad. The best thing he did for West Ham was fail to score a single Premier League goal after returning to Swansea, allowing David Moyes’s squad to fart themselves afloat.

Jonathan Calleri, summer 2016 (Loan)

Apps: 19 • Goals: 1

Did a rabona once.

Simone Zaza, summer 2016 (Loan)

Apps: 11 • Goals: 0

Simone Zaza, West Ham

Seemed to really like Romford, which ought to have been a massive red flag. Scored no goals during an expensive loan spell, before banging home 19 in 18 months for Valencia after the deal was cut short. Best remembered for a hilarious penalty run-up for Italy at Euro 2016.

Emmanuel Emenike, winter 2016 (Loan)

Apps: 16 • Goals: 2

Premier League clubs signing experienced Nigerian striker from Fenerbahce sounds like someone reading a real headline backwards. No league goals scored.

Nikica Jelavic, summer 2015 (£2.8m)

Apps: 15 • Goals: 3

If you’re paying money to sign Jelavic in 2015, then you’ve already lost. He did at least score an FA Cup third-round winner against Wolves, in a game which most West Ham fans probably don’t even remember happened. 

Enner Valencia, summer 2014 (£12m)

Apps: 68 • Goals: 10

Scored an absolute beauty of a knuckleball free-kick against Bournemouth, but injuries got in the way of anything resembling progress. Joined Everton on loan for reasons nobody was sure of and even he couldn’t explain, before becoming A Good Striker again… in Mexico.

Diafra Sakho, summer 2014 (£3.5m)

Apps: 71 • Goals: 24

Diafra Sakho, West Ham

Legitimately good but you got the impression that Slaven Bilic hated him, possibly for reasons unrelated to football. Perhaps the last true attacking bargain the club found, and yet he started just 40 league games his three-and-a-half years at the club. 

Tried to force a move to Rennes in August 2017 after flying there for an unauthorised medical, but spent deadline day at Chelmsford Races instead of going to training. At least his agent’s horse won, mind.   

Mauro Zarate, summer 2014 (Free)

Apps: 29 • Goals: 7

Does he even count?

Marco Borriello, winter 2014 (Loan)

Apps: 2 • Goals: 0

Borriello’s career path reads as follows: Treviso, Triestina, Milan, Empoli, Reggina, Sampdoria, Treviso, Genoa, Milan, Roma, Juventus, Genoa, West Ham, Genoa, Carpi, Atalanta, Cagliari, SPAL. One of these things is not like the others. Looked confused for the bulk of his two 45-minute appearances.

Carlton Cole, autumn 2013 (Free)

Apps: 56 • Goals: 9

Weird that he came back on a free several months after leaving. Not as weird as when Andy Carroll inevitably does the same.

Marouane Chamakh, winter 2013 (Loan)

Apps: 3 • Goals: 0

Marouane Chamakh, West Ham

Proceeded to score the winner against West Ham for Crystal Palace a few months after leaving. Obviously.

Modibo Maiga, summer 2012 (£4.7m)

Apps: 45 • Goals: 7

The marquee signing after promotion in 2012. Somehow sold at a profit.

Andy Carroll, summer 2012 (Loan, then £15m)

Apps: 142 • Goals: 34

Imagine if he’d left in 2016 or 2017. We’d probably all still like him. Three league goals since April 2017 wasn’t great for a guy whose job is to score goals.

Ricardo Vaz Te, winter 2012 (£540k)

Apps: 61 • Goals: 19

A rare good signing, Vaz Te’s goals helped West Ham win promotion in 2012 after he’d (presumably accidentally) washed up at Barnsley. Scored an entirely undeliberate goal in the famous 3-0 win at Tottenham in 2013. You wonder where he is now – probably somewhere surprising like Malaysia, or Chile, or Barnsley again. [The survey is in… and it’s fighting relegation from the Portuguese Primeira League with Portimonense – Ed.]

Nicky Maynard, winter 2012 (£1.65m)

Apps: 17 • Goals: 4

Nicky Maynard, West Ham

Signed to help get West Ham back into the Premier League. The problem was that West Ham actually made it there, so had no use for him any more.

Sam Baldock, summer 2011 (£2.2m)

Apps: 24 • Goals: 5

See above.

John Carew, summer 2011 (Free)

Apps: 21 • Goals: 2

Sorry, Big John Carew, to give him his full name. If you remember any of his games then you’re lying.

Robbie Keane, winter 2011 (Loan)

Apps: 9 • Goals: 2

The ‘you have to sign him for £6m if you stay up’ clause feels smarter if you’re confident of being relegated. It’s OK, though: West Ham knew he was finished as a striker… until he went on to score heaps for LA Galaxy.

Demba Ba, winter 2011 (£720k)

Apps: 13 • Goals: 7

Demba Ba, West Ham

When we talk about clubs’ banter eras, we generally don’t think to include instances of losing your top scorer on a free because the owners included a relegation release clause and tried in vain to re-sign him after he became a free agent. No one’s that stupid, after all. *Taps earpiece* what’s that? Oh.

Freddie Piquionne, summer 2010 (£1m)

Apps: 62 • Goals: 11

An international footballer for two countries, and a striker for two teams that finished bottom of the Premier League in successive seasons under Avram Grant. You could call him multi-talented, but that would be inaccurate.

Mido, winter 2010 (Free)

Apps: 9 • Goals: 0

No goals and one missed penalty might actually count as a net negative contribution; a rare example of West Ham overpaying by signing a player for free (though not the only example of this – see Breen, Gary).

Benni McCarthy, winter 2010 (£2.3m)

Apps: 14 • Goals: 0

Once went on record calling vice-chairman Karren Brady “the devil with a set of tits”. We wish we were making this up.

SEE ALSO And here’s Benni McCarthy explaining why to FourFourTwo...

Ilan, winter 2010 (Free)

Apps: 11 • Goals: 4

Ilan, West Ham

Not good per se, but scored some important goals. One of those was a diving header equaliser against Everton, made possible by the Brazilian challenging Harry Maguire for the honour of largest head in Premier League history.

Guille Franco, autumn 2009 (Free)

Apps: 23 • Goals: 5

Looked really old. Like, retired-uncle-of-already-fairly-old-mob-boss old. Like, former-50s-heart-throb-who’s-seen-some-stuff old. Like, being-played-by-Christopher-McDonald old. His finest moment was a 10-yard first touch that ended up being a perfect assist for Valon Behrami’s opener in a win over Hull.

Frank Nouble, summer 2009 (Free)

Apps: 19 • Goals: 1

The star of Chelsea’s reserves, and a man who scored one (one!) senior goal for West Ham. It’s almost as if ‘the new Carlton Cole’ wasn’t the compliment some thought it was.

Diego Tristan, autumn 2008 (Free)

Apps: 17 • Goals: 3

Yeah, that Diego Tristan. A full five years after his hot season for Deportivo.

David Di Michele, summer 2008 (Loan)

Apps: 34 • Goals: 4

David Di Michele, West Ham

Very noticeably not the same person as Antonio Di Natale, much to West Ham fans’ disappointment.

Craig Bellamy, summer 2007 (£7.5m)

Apps: 26 • Goals: 9

Perhaps the best of the bunch. Perennially injured and sold to Manchester City as soon as he strung a few games together, freeing up the funds for West Ham to sign many of the names above.

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