Our La Liga expert Jason Pettigrove discusses the dilemma facing West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic and rumours resurfacing of renewed interest in long-time target Alvaro Negredo.
Valencia’s Alvaro Negredo has been handed an unexpected reprieve at Mestalla under Gary Neville’s stewardship, and the ex-Manchester City hitman has repaid the manager in kind.
Four goals in his last four games in all competitions and a work rate that has put many of his younger colleagues to shame has seen Negredo back in favour after being ostracised by former manager Nuno Santo.
The whys and wherefores to that particular situation are not important at this stage.
What Valencia and Negredo have to concentrate on is getting the best out of a player who could play a big part in hauling them back into the European positions. The Champions League is already gone however. Dead and buried.
Los Che are a cavernous 16 points adrift at the time of writing and frankly there is no way that they’ll make up such a difference in what’s left of the La Liga season. A Europa League berth is far more realistic even though that too is nine points away from becoming a reality.
Of course, with some days left until the transfer window closes, there’s every chance that Negredo’s performances are pricking the consciousness of other clubs.
If there were to be bids tabled, however unwelcome, Neville would need to decide if his striker remains on the shop floor or is in the shop window. The latter scenario meaning Neville could potentially recoup a decent amount of cash to quickly reinvest for the wider needs of his young squad.
No La Liga wins since he took over tells its own story and something’s got to give.
West Ham are known to be interested in the player and were rumoured to be keen on placing a bid at the start of the window.
That hasn’t arrived as yet but the loss of Andy Carroll could well force Slaven Bilic’s hand.
In Negredo, the Hammers would have a ready made replacement for their bullish front man but would he be an improvement on the injury-prone Geordie? The stats make interesting reading.
Carroll has played two more games than his contemporary scoring one more goal than Negredo but three against two isn’t the greatest league scoring prowess from either, let’s be honest.
The Spaniard perhaps surprisingly has the edge in aerial duels, winning a reasonably healthy 50.82 percent compared to Carroll’s 47.78 percent.
But 16 shots is all that Negredo has mustered with Carroll a slightly more respectable 22. The Hammers hitman edges Negredo aside again with regards to pass completion – 63 percent success for Carroll, 59 percent Negredo.
And whilst interceptions clearly aren’t either player’s forte, where Negredo excels is in his positivity moving forward. Seven successful take ons compared to just three for the immobile Carroll.
With the England international out until at least March, Bilic and the Hammers board need to act now – or not.
Paying a fairly hefty fee for a striker that’s on par with what they have already but no real improvement, but importantly one who is immediately available and has proved he can score goals in the top division in England.
It’s a lose-lose for the east Londoners at this point, in some respects.
– Don’t splash the cash = no target man.
– Spend the claret and blue pound and be left with one unhappy customer at the midway point between now and the end of the campaign.
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