West Ham United has seen its fair share of shifts in fortunes over the years. Throughout the mid-2000s, the club found itself twice bouncing between the Championship and the Premier League however, over the last few years, the Hammers have firmly established themselves as a top-half club within the English top flight.
The move to the London Stadium was – and still remains – a controversial decision, but there can be no denying the extra funding it has brought in. It has allowed the club to fork out some eyewatering fees on players such as Lucas Pacqueta and Sebastian Haller, players who had differing fortunes throughout their time on the banks of the Thames.
But the David Moyes era, in particular, hasn’t solely been about flashing the cash, with an increased emphasis being focused on a more frugal transfer strategy. This has been epitomized by a string of signings that have not only boosted the squad but have also become integral parts of the club’s recent success.
As a football fan, you understand that player signings can transform a team’s potential on and off the pitch. Tracking the Scottish manager’s most crucial acquisitions, we explore how these players have become more than just names in the squad—they represent key milestones in the team’s journey.
Jarrod Bowen’s £20m transfer to West Ham in January 2020 was not only a significant investment but also a testament to the club’s scouting prowess. Initially plying his trade with Hull City, Bowen’s prowess in front of goal and adaptability immediately captured the attention of the powers that be at the London Stadium. However, no one could have anticipated the star that he would go on to become. The talented winger netted 16 goals in 29 Championship games for the Tigers in the six months prior to getting his opportunity in the big time, and it’s an opportunity that he has grasped with both hands.
Bowen took a while to find his feet, netting just nine times in his first 18 months with the Hammers. However, things truly took off in 2021 as the Englishman bagged 18 times in all competitions, leading his side to the Europa League semifinals as well as getting himself a spot in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.
Last season was his best one yet as he netted a last-gasp winner to secure the Conference League trophy with a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina, and he has continued in similar fashion this term, bagging 11 goals in just 20 league games. His team has made it to the latter stages of the Europa League once more, with online sports betting odds making West Ham a +1400 fifth favorite for glory, and it wouldn’t be the most surprising feat to see those odds materialize into success.
What makes Bowen’s arrival so important is not just the tally of goals and assists, but how he embodies the never-say-die spirit that Moyes’ West Ham has come to represent. His quick feet and eye for an opportunity have made him a feared opponent on the field and a fan favorite off it.
Tomas Soucek’s loan deal, later made permanent, has come to symbolize shrewd business in the transfer market. Signed from Slavia Prague, the Czech behemoth’s commanding presence in midfield has been a game-changer for the Hammers, as was his partnership with former midfield partner Declan Rice. His knack for arriving perfectly timed in the penalty area has seen him bag crucial goals, but it’s his work rate and tough tackles that have endeared him to his teammates and the fans alike.
Another Czech talent brought to East London, Vladimir Coufal, has bolstered the Hammers’ backline with his consistent and tireless performances. After making the switch from Slavia Prague, the unheralded defender wasted no time settling into Premier League football, gaining a reputation as an industrious full-back who marauds up and down the right flank with passion and ferocity.
The signing of Coufal aligns with Moyes’ desire for a solid defensive unit, and the Czech’s reliability has helped the team’s transformation from a defensively shaky side to one of the most resilient outfits in the league.
A deadline-day acquisition from Watford in the 2020/21 season, Craig Dawson’s introduction was met with a hint of skepticism. However, his no-nonsense defending and aerial prowess quickly put to rest any doubts about his contribution.
The throwback defender’s ability to slot in seamlessly, his sheer determination, and his threat from set-pieces have seen him become a vital member of the Moyes’ setup. The former Rochdale youngster was supposed to be nothing more than another body to add some strength in depth, but he left the club last summer for Wolverhampton Wanderers after becoming a cult hero and a European Champion.
Kurt Zouma’s high-profile transfer from Chelsea in the 2021 summer window was a statement of the club’s ambition. With a wealth of Premier League experience and a winning pedigree, the Frenchman arrived as a marquee signing, poised to anchor the Hammers’ defense. His athleticism, composure on the ball, and aerial dominance have provided the Hammers with a solidified backline that can withstand the toughest of attacks.