As the transfer window was coming to a close, it looked like West Ham would be signing Maxi Gomez as a cushion for the injured and possibly departing Marko Arnautovic. The Uruguayan national who’s emerged as a budding star striker for La Liga’s Celta Vigo seemed a natural replacement, and though he’ll clearly be a costly addition, he would be a sensible one also.
In the space of just a few days though, this idea was scrapped from multiple angles. Arnautovic inked a new deal, and while we don’t yet know the length of said deal, it eliminates – for now – the threat of his being lured to the Chinese Super League by a lucrative contract. The Hammers, or at lest supporters, and believed Arnautovic to be eyeing a way out of London, but it now seems that he can be counted on at least for the near future. Meanwhile, just as Arnautovic’s position was being shored up internally, the transfer window closed with no formal offer having been made for Gomez.
These sudden and somewhat surprising developments bring about an interesting question for the West Ham brass: Is Maxi Gomez still a necessary summer signing?
We may just find out the answer to this question, or at least an indicator, through Arnautovic’s play to close the Premier League season. After being left out of recent matches first because Manuel Pellegrini declared him to be in the wrong place mentally, and next because he was forced off with an injury, the Austrian forward appears to be in line to play. It’s not a massive story, but it could conceivably lead the oddsmakers for upcoming Premier League matches to show a little bit more respect for the Hammers, and a winning rhythm could certainly be found.
If indeed West Ham is able to close the last few months of the season with strong play and Arnautovic playing effectively up top, the argument could be made that money set aside for Gomez might be best spent elsewhere. At the same time however, Gomez is the significantly younger player, and likely the better talent as well – possibly already, and certainly in the future. This, coupled with the indications that there is still a plan for Pellegrini and Co. to try for Gomez again this summer, means he should probably remain on our radar.
This in turn raises the question of whether Arnautovic and Gomez can play together on the same front line, or how effective it might be. There’s no question that on pure talent, this would make for a formidable attack. It would be a significant adjustment for both players, however, which is something Pellegrini will have to give real thought to if indeed Arnautovic is staying put and Gomez is still a target.