Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to sell Javier Hernandez may prove costly following news Michail Antonio could be sidelined for up to four months. The Chilean tactician allowed five strikers to leave the London Stadium over the summer with just two moving in the other direction.
His hands were tied when it came to want-away hitman Marko Arnautovic who agreed a £23million move to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG. Arnautovic tried to force through that switch in January but had to wait until the summer to finalise a lucrative deal in the Far East.
Lucas Perez, who struggled after joining from Arsenal, also departed to return to his homeland with Deportivo Alaves, while Jordan Hugill has signed for QPR on-loan. Andy Carroll left upon the expiration of his contract following a torrid time with injuries which severely restricted his game time.
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And Hernandez was the final player to head for the exit after he was snapped up by Sevilla in the latter stages of the European transfer window. Pellegrini appears to have found the perfect man to lead the line in Sebastien Haller, having paid £45million to bring him in from Eintracht Frankfurt but the only other attacking acquisition was Albian Ajeti from Basel.
West Ham did look to be well-stocked prior to Chicharito’s departure due to the fact that Antonio can also play through the middle but he looks set to miss up to four months of action due to a hamstring problem sustained in the Carabao Cup victory over Newport County.
Antonio has played in a variety of positions for the club since joining from Nottingham Forest in September 2015 but after undergoing surgery he is expected to be out of action until early 2020. It places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of former France Under-21 international Haller in his debut Premier League campaign.
The 25-year-old has scored three times so far but it seems unrealistic to expect him to carry a team that is targeting a place in Europe. They have started 2019-20 positively, claiming seven points from their opening four games and only losing on the opening day to champions Manchester City.
Youngster Xande Silva, who joined last summer from Vitoria Guimaraes, has been added to West Ham’s Premier
League squad list but he is also out after undergoing emergency bowel surgery and will not be available for at least a month. Pellegrini may have to dip into the transfer market in January, which often means inflated prices due to clubs being desperate if they are not on course to hit their targets.
Ultimately, he was brought in by West Ham to lead them into Europe and anything less, having been backed financially, could see the boss out of a job by the end of the season.
The sale of Hernandez would then likely be highlighted as a big factor in their failure.