Grady Diangana: The final nail in the GSB coffin?
Updated: Sep 3
I'll put it sweetly, West Ham have supposedly accepted an offer in the £20 million mark from West Bromwich Albion for Grady Diangana. Another potential transfer that highlights the sad and steady decline of the club. With the new season fast approaching, the emphasis was on improving with the current players we have and adding younger players. Instead? we're selling them for peanuts.
Grady Diangana is nothing short of an exceptional talent that showcases the talent within West Ham's academy. The club that prides themselves on being 'the academy of football': producing and developing world-class footballing talents. The recent news is nothing short of paradoxical to these years of hard work and reputation that West Ham have historically built for themselves. Sadly, as we all know, this is slowly becoming a distant memory. The stadium, the players and the passion that was once at West Ham... is no longer.
David Moyes was not the ideal first-choice replacement for the club that would propel us to become a 'world-class' football team as Sullivan & Co promised all those years ago, far from it. Though, the Scot had a clear vision to restructure the identity of the club and how he wanted them to play football. He had transfer targets, a philosophy and a final goal for this season that would be realistic for West Ham with damage limitation. There was some optimism after some impressive performances at the end of last season that he would steady the ship and, with a few reinforcements, provide some good football. For that to happen, you need backing in the transfer window and a structure in place to get the best out of the season ahead. Accepting an offer of £12 million for one of our most prized assets was not part of his plan. Though, going off the recent deals for Jordan Hugill & Albian Ajeti, you could say this was a sad inevitability too.
It goes without saying, Diangana is a very talented player that could have provided a different dynamic for Moyes' side this season. His close control and dribbling ability make him a direct threat that would also get the best out of our club-record £45 million signing, Sebastien Haller. The Frenchman was starved of service last season and was crying out for a player of Grady's ability to provide him with these goalscoring chances. You only need to watch the recent highlights against Ipswich Town to see this, with Diangana proving pivotal in Haller's hat-trick.
What could have been...
Despite Diangana being ruled out for parts of last season, his 2019/20 numbers for West Brom remain impressive. His average of 2.4 dribbles per 90 [most] and 1,4 key passes per 90 highlight his attacking threat. This was briefly shown in the recent friendly against Ipswich, where the 22-year-old thrived and was at the focal point of every positive thing West Ham did.
As shown here for Haller's first goal:
This is often Diangana's trademark move on the left or right-hand side. Despite being under pressure, the 22-year-old still manages to manoeuvre his way past both players with his close control & skill.
He then manages to get his cross away and perfectly pick out Haller, who has a simple tap in. Just a brief glimpse of the combination and understanding the pair had and the threat this could have caused in the Premier League this season. You get the gist, I won't add anymore analysis on what could have been.
West Ham's loss? West Brom's gain.
Revenge is sweet, especially for Slaven Bilic. The man who guided us to within four points of Champions League football at the end of the 2015/16 season. He brought us passion, dedication and an array of talent in one of West Ham's most successful seasons in recent memory. Long story short, he was also not backed by the board. He identified the targets he wanted in Leander Dendocker & William Carvalho to improve the midfield department, instead, he got Håvard Nordtveit with Simone Zaza and Jonathan Calleri thrown in as well.
Bilic guided West Brom back to the Premier League after the Baggies achieved automatic promotion and is now set to get one of his former teams most prized assets for next to nothing. Ultimately, it makes them stronger and us weaker. With the Baggies already securing the permanent signing of Matheus Pereira, the addition of Diangana would make them look like a strong side ahead of their Premier League return. Meanwhile, West Ham continue to look for buyers for Felipe Anderson & Manuel Lanzini and rely on the defensive ineptitudes of full-backs, Aaron Cresswell & Ryan Fredericks.
I could maybe see some sense in selling Diangana if we had a left-back and centre-back lined up, but the harsh reality tells me that this is another cheap deal done to pay previous transfer instalments that we owe to other clubs and that very little will be reinvested in first choice replacements in the problem areas.
The strong reaction from the West Ham fan base tells you all you need to know about the current ongoing issues at the club. The transfer inactivity and now four players leaving the club spells trouble for West Ham next season. Clubs around West Ham including Leeds United, West Brom and Crystal Palace are all strengthening with a clear plan in place. It just leads to the ultimate question of not if West Ham will go down but sadly when. David Moyes must be in disbelief that Diangana could be on his way out for such a little fee in today's transfer market after indicating he had a big part to play this season. Unless West Ham re-invest the money in defensive reinforcements, questions must be raised about this piece of business. This situation does not bode well for the club and their promising academy players who will be looking to breakthrough in the coming years. Worst of all, Grady didn't want to leave, but ultimately his hand was forced. Declan Rice, you're next. Fortunes always hiding.