West Ham’s summer-long search for a striker which has taken them on a meandering trek around Europe was finally nearing completion on Friday night after Simone Zaza flew to London to complete his medical.
The Italy striker will initially move to the London Stadium on loan, although West Ham have signed a deal which means they will pay Juventus a club record £24m in 12 months’ time for the 25-year-old.
Having made a £15m bid for Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson before last season had ended, the co-chairman David Sullivan made it his priority to attract a proven goalscorer to the club this summer but offers for Michy Batshauyi and Alexandre Lacazette were rebuffed.
A £26m move for the Milan striker Carlos Bacca then dragged on for weeks, with the Colombia international eventually opting to stay in Italy. But with Andy Carroll ruled out for up to six weeks and his record signing André Ayew unlikely to play again this year after suffering a thigh injury, Slaven Bilic’s desire to sign a new forward has heightened.
The disastrous defeat by the Romanians Astra Giurgiu in the Europa League qualifiers for the second season in succession highlighted West Ham’s lack of options up front, with only the Argentinian Jonathan Calleri – signed on loan from Deportivo Maldonado earlier this month – and the former Manchester United forward Ashley Fletcher as the only recognised strikers in Bilic’s squad.