West Ham were busy last summer, rejuvenating their entire striking department as former manager Manuel Pellegrini allowed four of them to depart the club, replacing them two new faces in club-record signing Sebastien Haller and Albian Ajeti. Marko Arnautovic, Lucas Perez, Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez all exited east London, bringing in around £30m in funds for the club coffers but £45m was spent on Haller while £8m was handed over to Basel for the services of Ajeti. But it wasn’t just strikers who were allowed to leave over the summer. Carroll was released on a free alongside goalkeeper Adrian who joined Liverpool, midfielders Edimilson Fernandes and Pedro Obiang also left and Samir Nasri didn’t have his short-term contract extended. Pellegrini made his squad very top heavy though and now that is an issue David Moyes, who replaced the Chilean back in December, needs to sort out when the next transfer window does come around.
The Austrian frontman scored four goals in his first five games after finally forcing through a £25million move to Shanghai SIPG in the Chinese Super League last summer, making the switch to China look a relatively straightforward one. He ended the campaign in fine style too, netting four goals in a 6-0 rout of Shenzhen FC to end the season with 11 goals in the Far East as his team overhauled Guangzhou Evergrande to secure the CSL title having been eight points behind at the mid-season break. He scored on his first appearance of the new season too for Shanghai before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and brought football to a halt.
West Ham’s former goalkeeper was expected to return to a Spanish team following his release before Liverpool came calling after the Reds sold backup Simon Mignolet. Adrian was thrust into the spotlight immediately, making his debut in the Premier League opener against Norwich after number one Allisson picked up an injury. Adrian saved a penalty in the shootout to see off Chelsea in the Super Cup and then made a howler against Bournemouth on his first league start to gift them a goal. Liverpool won all eight league games Adrian played to start the season, with the Spaniard keeping two clean sheets, before Allison’s return to the team on October 20. Adrian has made 18 appearances in total this season for Jurgen Klopp’s champions-elect.
The Mexican was the fourth and final striker to leave the club this summer as he sealed a move to Sevilla in La Liga. He’s hit the net just once in La Liga but he has had some success in the Europa League, scoring twice in two starts in the competition. He scored with a fine free kick against Qarabag in a very rare goal from outside of the box, something he never did in the Premier League, and also hit the target against Apoel Nicosia. He has since left Seville and joined the MLS and LA Galaxy, where he became the best paid player in the history of the league.
The Swiss midfielder was the first departure of last summer as he was sold to Mainz in Germany for an undisclosed fee. Fernandes has been a regular starter for the German side, playing 17 times and scoring once but Mainz have struggled badly this season as they sit just one spot above the relegation zone. They were also on the end of an 8-0 mauling by RB Leipzig earlier this season and when the Bundesliga returns next week, Fernandes’ teammates have a real fight for survival on their hands.
The Equatorial Guinea international returned to Italy to sign for Sassuolo last summer. He’s been a regular as well, making 21 appearances. He did miss one through suspension, picking up five yellow cards in his first ten outings of the season. Sassuolo sat comfortably in mid-table in Serie A, occupying 11th place in the standings and were on a run of four wins in six games before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
One of the victims of Pellegrini’s striker cull this summer, Perez returned to Spain and joined La Liga outfit Alaves. Perez hit a rich massive vein of form midway through the season when he netted seven goals in seven games and was then linked with a move to Barcelona, who were in dire need of a striker. That left some wondering why he wasn’t either given more of a chance to show that in east London, or why he couldn’t do it when he did get the chance. In all, Perez has bagged 11 goals including three in five games before La Liga was suspended.
Speaking of the striker cull, another one of them to leave earlier this summer was Andy Carroll. He re-joined former club Newcastle United as a free agent but took his time to make his first appearance as he recovered from an ankle injury. All of his first six appearances came from the bench, including one against his former employers in a 3-2 win at London Stadium for the Toon. The big striker has made 13 appearances all toppled for Newcastle but has yet to find the net as Steve Bruce treats Carroll carefully due to his injury history.
Premier League newboys Norwich City signed the right back after finding himself well down the pecking order at West Ham. It was a slow start for Byram as Jamal Lewis was the regular right back, with Byram starting just two of the first 12 games of the season. But an injury to Lewis has seen Byram’s game time increase and started 13 straight games. However, he was not in the squad for the previous tree prior to the Prmeier League being called to a halt in March.
The 20-year-old finally got his move away from the Hammers and joined Augsburg in Germany, who he spent time with on loan last season. He has only played eight times for the German side but all of them have been as a defensive midfielder rather than his preferred position of centre half. Oxford hasn’t been in an Augsburg squad since November 3 last year and was linked with a move to Crystal Palace in January which never materialised as his career continues to stall.
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