After a lively debate between the Brace the Hammer writers it’s time to be positive about the possibility of signing Jermain Defoe to West Ham. He would be a great signing and would add some much-needed stability and goals to the Hammers’ attack. With Sunderland seven points from safety, they are probably getting relegated this season and in all likelihood going to have to give up their star player.
Defoe started as a youth player for West Ham, before fully breaking into the first team at the age of 19; he was regarded as the future of the club. Unfortunately, relegation the then-First Division [now the Championship] ended Defoe’s time at West Ham; he controversially left the club for arch-rivals, Tottenham after half a season in England’s second tier. Defoe would go on to establish himself as the Harry Kane of his day - that annoying player who loves playing against West Ham and always seems to score.
After spells with Portsmouth and Toronto FC, Defoe finds himself at the floundering Sunderland. He has scored 14 league goals this season, 58% of his team’s total output this season. It also makes him the sixth highest scorer in the league. It should be noted that the last time a West Ham player scored 14 goals in a Premier League season was Marlon Harewood in 2005/06.
Our own Pete Schlenker, one of the leaders of the anti-Defoe camp, wrote that he wouldn’t want to see him play for the Hammers:
It’s a desperation move, designed to keep the team in the Premier League, not a move to take the team forward.
Getting an ex-Hammer like Defoe honestly looks like a move designed to make the fans happy, not a move made by a shrewd decision maker looking to improve the side. Signing a player like Ashley Fletcher is a good move, it’s something than plans for the future.
This is true to an extent. Having a player like Defoe who will rarely get injured might hinder the development of up-and-coming strikers. In a situation that could mirror how Zlatan Ibrahimovic hogging the centre forward position may be holding back the development of Marcus Rashford at the position.
For West Ham, the bigger issue is that Bilic doesn’t think we have a backup striker who can fill-in for Andy Carroll. The manager would rather play Michail Antonio up front when Carroll is injured, rather than an up and comer like Ashley Fletcher.
Aside from Carroll, no striker has enjoyed the faith of the manager for much of this season. Sakho has been injured for about two years, and the last time a centre forward that wasn’t Carroll even made a match day squad was against Watford on 25th February when Calleri sat on the bench. West Ham need another striker to add competition for places at the very least.
Meanwhile Andy Carroll’s constant injuries have prevented him making over 30 league appearances since 2011/12. Meanwhile, Defoe is on pace to record his second consecutive season of 30+ games.
Defoe also wins in terms of goals, compare their last two seasons in the Premier League:
Andy Carroll - 51 games 15 goals [0.3 goals to games]
Jermain Defoe - 61 games 32 goals [0.5 goals to games]
I’d rather have a player who gets a goal every second game and can play consistently over the current option. But the great thing is that West Ham don’t have to choose! If they manage to get Defoe, we can enjoy a little and large strike partnership with Carroll knocking headers down for Defoe to finish. It would be magic.
Despite Defoe being 34-years-old his ability to finish makes him the ideal person to have in the box. At his age he mainly lurks in the penalty area and finishes chances. Even if he isn’t as swift as he used to be, you don’t lose the ability to be a quality finisher.
It’s the same reason Miroslav Klose got two goals at the 2014 World Cup, despite being deathly slow. His only job was to stand in the penalty area and put the ball in the net. Defoe could more than fulfill this role for West Ham and become the 20+ goal a season striker we have been promised for years.
The biggest concern many of these Defoe naysayers have is not so much with the player himself, but the overall policy of the club. I totally understand that. We see teams like Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City purchasing young talent and investing in youth. Whereas West Ham United is spending their money on, rumored, Defoe and Wayne Rooney. So while you look at AS Monaco’s Kylian Mbappé and salivate at the mouth, just know that West Ham United is not that club. We’re the club that made real offers to Scott Hogan, but balked at Michy Batshuayi and Alexandre Lacazette.
Forget age for a second. Forget the youth policy Slaven Bilic has had in pace for the majority of the season where anyone under 23 gets either shipped off or plays on PL2. The real issue is the idea of a ‘band-aid fix’, which has become the go-to popular option in East London. You need a right back? Mate, we’ve got Kouyate just standing there ready to go. Need another forward? My man, no need! We can just put Michail Antonio up top and see what happens!
These kind of policies have plagued West Ham United as of late. What angers the fans more than anything is not that we’re looking at these world class options and longing for them. What grinds East London’s gears is that we were promised those world class option. Hey! New stadium, it’s nice right? We’re going to fill that with top talent from around the globe, just sign up for season tickets!
So how does having Jermain Defoe fix that? It doesn’t. Not one bit, and in fact, just reinforces the band-aid policy we all have a distaste for. We’ll have Jermain for a year, two if he’s superhuman. If the plan is to have Defoe spot start with Andy for a year or two until they feel Toni Martinez or Ashley Fletcher is ready to go - I’m 100% on board.
We could do a lot worse than Jermain Defoe - I know because we’ve been living it.
Should West Ham sign Jermain Defoe?
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