West Ham’s failure to bolster their striking corps ahead of Monday’s transfer deadline has forced the club into the free agent market, and already Romania striker Ciprian Marica has been linked with a move to Upton Park.
In her column in The Sun (subscription required) vice-chairman Karren Brady revealed her side had made late approaches for each of Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku and Nicklas Bendtner, only to see Ba and Bendtner remain at Chelsea and Arsenal, respectively, and Lukaku join Everton on loan.
“You win some, you lose some and West Ham lose three tonight—transfers that is,” she wrote on Monday evening.
With Andy Carroll recovering from an ankle injury and yet to play a single minute of Premier League football this season, the Hammers have only Modibo Maiga and Ricardo Vaz Te available at the moment, although Carroll is likely to play some part in next Sunday’s match away to Southampton.
Still, with manager Sam Allardyce woefully short of options in attack, the Express has reported Marica could be on his way to the Boleyn Ground, and with English clubs permitted to sign free agents outside the transfer window so long as their release was made during the registration period, any prospective deal could be finalized before the Premier League resumes play next weekend.
Marica, 27, was cut loose by Schalke in the spring having made only 13 appearances in 2012-13 and scoring just three goals. In two seasons at the Gelsenkirchen club, he found the back of the net on only five occasions in the Bundesliga. Although, over the same period of time, he scored eight goals for Romania.
His most recent international tally came just two minutes into Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Hungary when he chased down a defender, dispossessed him and bolted into the 18-yard box before easing a shot inside the right post.
It was the sort of goal Marica’s previous clubs—Shakhtar Donetsk and Stuttgart also among them—would have liked to have seen more of from the powerful, 6-foot-1 striker. But his undeniable athleticism hasn’t always translated into end product. To that end, West Ham would be assuming some risk in taking him on.
A powerful forward with a history of muscle injuries, Marica, when at his best, can make something happen out of nothing, as he did against Hungary. But he is a poor passer of the ball and creates few opportunities for his teammates, although in Allardyce’s system he would be required to be little more than a target man.
Marica, should he agree to join West Ham, would add an element of depth behind a healthy Andy Carroll, and in a more physical Premier League, nevermind in an Allardyce team that would ask less of him than other sides, he would perhaps prove a good fit.
As a risk, it’s one worth taking for the club, and with Romania trying to nail down a playoff spot in World Cup qualifying, Marica needs first-team football, and soon, in order to remain useful to his national side.