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5 Most Ridiculous Transfer “Targets” of the Gold and Sullivan Era

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Recapping the most embarrassing moments from their FIFA-inspired transfer policy

Wigan Athletic v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

The Summer transfer window is fast approaching and West Ham’s season appears to be over. Now comes the time to look ahead at potential new additions to the squad. It also means that fans are going to have to endure the annual tradition of ridiculous transfer rumours, mostly instigated by our idiot chairmen.

I can appreciate if you don’t ask you don’t get, but when that adage becomes a defining feature of the transfer policy, things get embarrassing for the club. We are going to look at some of the most ambitious failed offers that never came close to completion. The only thing achieved was giving other fans more ammunition to laugh at West Ham.

The idea came to me after the club declared an interest in bringing Wayne Rooney to London Stadium this summer.

“Never say never” are not words you associate with a reasonable transfer target. It stinks of the owners trying to stoke up season ticket sales.

Thierry Henry – May 2010

Thierry Henry of Arsenal in action Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Thierry Henry, a man who single-handedly destroyed West Ham back in 2003 was the subject of a “shock bid” in 2010. One of the greatest players of his generation, Henry was ready to leave Barcelona. The Hammers had the foolhardy notion they could make a splash. The season after they finished 1 place off relegation no less. Co-chairman David Sullivan told the media:

"We're trying to assemble a more prolific strike force at West Ham and I'd love to have Henry here. Our club is in debt but a striker of his quality and standing would make it a great deal. Henry is still up there with the best.”

West Ham finished the 2010/11 season at the bottom of the Premier League. Instead Frédéric Piquionne was brought in, and only managed 6 league goals. Shades of summer 2016 where fans were promised a quality striker only to get Simone Zaza.

Neymar – June 2010

Brazil v USA Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Yes, West Ham tried to sign that Neymar. You know, the guy who is currently 25 goals away from breaking Pelé’s all-time goalscoring record for the Brazilian national team. West Ham certainly had an eye for talent back in summer 2010 and made a £16 million bid for the 18-year-old wonderkid.

Naturally, West Ham were competing with the top clubs in world football for the Brazilian’s signature as Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City were sniffing around. Neymar went on to sign for Barcelona in the summer of 2013 for close to £71.5 million.

it’s laughable to think that West Ham were in the running when they refused to pay £15 million for Scott Hogan in January.

Wigan Athletic v West Ham United - Premier League
I still haven’t gotten over this
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Perhaps if West Ham focused on realistic transfer targets in the summer of 2010, they might not have been the worst team in the Premier League that season. The club tried to sign Henry and Neymar in the summer, no wonder we got relegated. It was probably karma.

Fernando Torres – Summer 2011

Chelsea v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

After West Ham were relegated to the Championship they made a loan offer for Fernando Torres. At the time, the Spaniard was struggling at Chelsea after his £50 million transfer just six months earlier.

There were so many things wrong with this. No matter how disappointing Torres’ season was, Chelsea were never going to send him on loan a few months after the record-breaking transfer.

Also, Fernando Torres playing in the Championship? Really!?

Co-chairman David Gold tried to justify this madness to the media a few months later:

"We weren't scoring goals and we felt that Torres was a bit out of favour at the time and we thought maybe Chelsea would let Torres go for a month or two to let him get his sharpness back. It was more of an enquiry than a bid.

They were playing him as a bit-part. We desperately needed a striker and we also believed he would be lethal in this division so it could have been a good thing for both clubs.”

To rectify this striker deficiency West Ham ended up signing Nicky Maynard and Ricardo Vaz Te, good Championship players. These signings helped secure promotion straight back to the Premier League.

David Beckham – November 2012

2012 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Galaxy

West Ham’s first season back in Premier League after a one-year stint in the Championship, brought unbridled optimism, especially after we made a good start to the season. It was in this heady climate that the club made it clear they wanted David Beckham.

The then 37-year-old announced that he would leave Los Angeles Galaxy in December of 2012 and many clubs were sniffing around. This move seemed to make sense, as Beckham grew up in Leytonstone, East London, a heartland for West Ham support.

Beckham would instead join Paris Saint-Germain, where he won Ligue 1 in his final season before retirement; making the bold decision to link up with Zlatan Ibrahimović and Ezequiel Lavezzi over Mohamed Diamé and Modibo Maïga. Meanwhile, the Hammers finished the season tenth in the Premier League.

Zlatan Ibrahimović – March 2016

West Ham United v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Last summer David Sullivan promised a “£25 million or £30m striker” to help the club’s prestige ahead of the first season at London Stadium. 34-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović was available on a free transfer and hinted at a desire to play in the Premier League.

It must have seemed like a no-brainer to the chairmen, surely one of elite football’s premier talents would want to join the Irons. Rather than reunite with Jose Mourinho, after their time together at Inter Milan, Ibrahimović said:

“Mourinho would become a guy I was basically willing to die for."

If one of the Davids bothered to read Zlatan’s autobiography they would have known that the Ibrahimović-Mourinho reunion was destined to happen. He certainly wasn’t going to slum it in East London, playing with bums like Enner Valencia.

As we can see West Ham have made a lot of stupidly unrealistic bids for players and have yet to deliver on any of these outlandish transfer targets. The outspoken chairmen are full of bold proclamations that very rarely materialise. The same thing will happen with Wayne Rooney. He’s not coming to West Ham.

Jack Kavanagh has his own website where he writes weird opinions about popular culture.