West Ham’s search for a new striker has led to David Moyes identifying Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins as a key target this summer.
Moyes is desperate to add more quality to his attack and the Scot is interested in Watkins, who has impressed since leaving Brentford for £28m two years ago. West Ham have explored the possibility of signing the England international and could decide to test Villa’s resolve by bidding for the 26-year-old, who has scored 11 goals for club and country this season.
There has been talk that Steven Gerrard could be prepared to sell Watkins, although it is likely Villa would demand at least £50m for the forward. Watkins has made huge strides since moving to Villa Park and has a good chance of being included in England’s squad for the World Cup later this year.
It is easy to see why Watkins appeals to Moyes. The former Brentford striker is a mobile, energetic presence in attack and would appear to suit West Ham’s style of play. West Ham usually operate with a lone striker and need someone who can occupy opposition defences on their own.
Michail Antonio has performed that job admirably but Moyes is acutely aware of the need to provide the 32-year-old striker with more competition. Antonio, who is West Ham’s only senior striker, has only scored four goals in 2022 and has looked weary in recent months.
West Ham, who hope to bounce back from the disappointment of their Europa League semi-final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt by snatching sixth place from Manchester United, have other attacking targets.
The east Londoners have not given up their slim hopes of signing Benfica’s Darwin Núñez, who is expected to join an elite European club, and could move for Armando Broja after the Chelsea forward’s loan at Southampton ends. Broja caught the eye during his appearances against West Ham earlier this season, though no negotiations over a transfer can take place until Chelsea’s ownership situation has been resolved.
West Ham are also keeping track of Eddie Nketiah, who is yet to agree a new deal with Arsenal. Crystal Palace and Brighton are interested in signing Nketiah on a free transfer. The 22-year-old, who has boosted Arsenal’s top-four chances by scoring four goals in his past four games, wants regular football.
Moyes will be given funds as he tries to help West Ham regularly challenge for a top-six spot. West Ham are also in the market for a centre-back and have looked at Nottingham Forest’s Joe Worrall as a potential replacement for Issa Diop, who could be allowed to leave. A move for James Tarkowski looks unlikely at the moment, with other clubs pushing harder to sign the Burnley centre-back on a free.
West Ham are also looking to provide Aaron Cresswell with more competition at left-back, and want more cover for Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek in central midfield. Mark Noble is retiring at the end of the season and Alex Kral’s loan from Spartak Moscow has not been a success. Moyes tried to sign the Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips in January.
Andriy Yarmolenko is expected to leave West Ham this summer. Moyes will consider reinforcements in attacking midfield. He wants a left winger and has looked at Hull’s Keane Lewis-Potter.