West Ham are set to appoint a director of football in an attempt to address misgivings over their recent transfer strategy. A recruitment process is under way and changes are expected at the club this summer.
Potential candidates have been identified and include the former Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards, Monaco’s Paul Mitchell, Brentford’s Lee Dykes and Atalanta’s Lee Congerton. There have been discussions with Victor Orta, who recently parted company with Leeds, but the Spaniard is regarded as an unlikely appointment.
West Ham, who are yet to decide whether to keep David Moyes as manager, have endured a disappointing campaign despite spending close to £160m on players last summer. Control over signings was largely handed to Moyes. Sources have spoken of dissatisfaction within the hierarchy over the club’s business. If Moyes stays it is anticipated his influence over transfer business would be reduced.
Moyes would have to decide whether he is willing to work with a director of football. Moyes is close with Rob Newman, the head of recruitment. Questions are set to be raised over Newman’s role. West Ham, six points above the bottom three, have been battling against relegation despite their outlay.
It is felt that bringing in a director of football would help the sporting director, Mark Noble. The former captain was appointed in January and the board are impressed with how he has settled. It has been recognised, though, that there is not enough support or experience around Noble. West Ham want to bolster their scouting network and relieve the demands on Noble, who is expected to have a large say over the academy.
West Ham had a director of football when Mario Husillos joined in 2018. Husillos was heavily associated with the then manager, Manuel Pellegrini, and left when the Chilean was fired in December 2019.
The latest search for a director of football is being led by David Sullivan, West Ham’s largest shareholder. Sullivan has reached out to intermediaries and remains the most influential figure at the club. The co-owner will take charge of finding a manager if Moyes leaves.
Moyes’s future could depend on whether West Ham win the Europa Conference League. They are 2-1 up before the second leg of their semi-final at AZ Alkmaar on Thursday. Moyes could earn himself another season if he brings West Ham their first major trophy since 1980. Winning the Conference League would also earn qualification into the Europa League.
There is disquiet over how West Ham have fared in the league. They are not safe from relegation after losing to Brentford on Sunday and there have been complaints over the style. West Ham are monitoring Graham Potter, Brendan Rodgers and Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou. There are indications that Paulo Fonseca will spend another season at Lille. At least one other candidate is lurking in the background.
West Ham had hoped to kick on after finishing seventh last season. Moyes and Newman were handed significant funds and chased a number of targets but the spending has produced mixed results. The biggest disappointment has been the £35.5m Italy striker Gianluca Scamacca, from Sassuolo. Scamacca, who has struggled to settle, has three league goals and is out for the season with a knee injury.
Flynn Downes, Emerson Palmieri, Thilo Kehrer and Maxwel Cornet have also struggled to live up to expectations, and Alphonse Areola is yet to displace Lukasz Fabianski as the No 1 goalkeeper.
There has been more encouragement from the Morocco defender Nayef Aguerd, who joined for £29.8m. Lucas Paquetá has produced flashes of class in midfield since becoming West Ham’s record buy at £51.5m from Lyon.
But West Ham will need more hits than misses this summer given that they are likely to lose Declan Rice. The midfielder is attracting heavy interest from Arsenal and Manchester United. West Ham hope to receive at least £100m for Rice but they would need to spend the money wisely.