Another transfer window, another striker pursued by West Ham.
With Sebastian Haller flogged at Ajax, the Irons are on the hunt for a new leader to lighten the load on Michail Antonio, and a report from The Athletic suggests Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesyri is the new subject of their affection.
David Moyes’ side have reportedly had an offer of around £ 27million rejected for the 23-year-old, but they are expected to return to the table with an improved offer before the window closes to make the deal. line.
But who is Youssef En-Nesyri really? Look no further.
En-Nesyri’s story in Andalusia began in January 2020, when the departure of former West Ham striker Javier Hernandez, as well as Moanes Dabour, left Sevilla shorthanded.
They turned to the capital to recruit reinforcements, and En-Nesyri – who had scored four goals in his last eight games for a desperately struggling Leganés side – was brought in for around £ 18million.
The signing was met with a mixed reception as he had struggled for much of the first half of the season, his price in particular raising eyebrows.
Wondering if he was worth his money would continue, and he was public enemy number one in Sevilla in September, when his glaring misfire against Bayern ultimately cost his side the UEFA Super Cup.
West Ham’s interest did not come out of nowhere, however. As the season progressed, he gradually found his mojo and scored 12 goals in 25 appearances across all competitions, making him one of the first names on Julen Lopetegui’s squad sheet.
We’re only halfway through 2020/21, but his 12 goals so far are already his best record in a single season.
He got there by systematically dismantling Real Sociedad, scoring the second treble of his club career, and with seven goals in his last 11 league appearances, he’s undoubtedly in the form of his life.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen En-Nesyri linked with a move to the Premier League. West Ham was believed to be in the frame 18 months ago, as he was briefly touted as a potential Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replacement at Arsenal last January, when the status of his contract was on hold.
Previous interest stemmed from an impressive 2018/19 season with Leganes, in which he scored 11 goals to get them out of the mud after a poor start.
A mid-season flurry, in which he scored six goals in three matches, against Eibar, Rayo Vallecano and Real Betis, really caught the eye.
Despite his recent improvement in form, there are still some in Spain who are yet to be convinced by En-Nesyri – in part because of his tendency to frustrate.
He is often reluctant to let go of the ball, preferring to dribble and evade shots himself. This led to a spectacular and weird moment, but it just as often results that Luuk de Jong fails to pass.
He is also a talented player and can complicate matters too much when the odds present themselves.
Despite all this, however, he rarely loses the ball – according to FBref, he has only been dispossessed 17 times this season, which suggests he is effective in delaying play.
True to the statistical vein, En Nesyri has averaged one La Liga goal every 122 minutes this season. Only Luis Suarez (103) has a more favorable record than that.
Part of this is because En-Nesyri has yet to fully find a starting point. 13 of his 25 appearances, in fact, have come from the bench, and it’s only recently that he has become an unstoppable presence for Lopetegui.
Despite his relative lack of starts, he is the fifth best scorer in the league as it is, just three goals behind Lionel Messi, who is leading the way.