Top 5: Potential candidates for West Ham's mystery striker target

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West Ham's joint-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan often say strange things, comments that should be taken with a pinch of salt. Or maybe a truckload. 

So with that in mind, on Tuesday Sullivan visited the Sky Sports News HQ studio to discuss the imminent signing of Sam Byram from Leeds. The 66-year-old then made some interesting comments about bringing in a striker on loan whilst Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho are injured.

Yesterday's Brentwood Gazette audaciously claimed that the Hammers would bid £18 million for Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge - not exactly the best way to cover injuries!

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"We are looking, long-term, for a 20-goal-a-season striker," Sullivan said. "There's a possibility that a striker will come in on loan, with the option to buy, within the next seven days. He's an overseas striker."

He dropped more hints, stating: "If I told you, you wouldn't believe it. I can't tell you which league because then you'll know exactly who it is. We are signing from a very strange league. But he has played in higher leagues."

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So who could this high-profile striker currently playing in an obscure league be? Here are five suggestions:


Demba Ba

This is a player with experience of both the Premier League and West Ham themselves, having spent six months at Upton Park in 2011. His seven goals failed to keep West Ham up, so he joined Newcastle on a free. After 18 months at St James' Park, his £7 million release fee was met by Chelsea, where he played a bit-part role under Jose Mourinho. His nomadic career then took him to Besiktas, before signing a three-year deal with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua last June.

A man who surrounds himself with agents and get-out contract clauses, it's not inconceivable that Ba would chase another big-money move. He'd certainly guarantee goals for Slaven Bilic's side and would be deemed a very good signing. The Premier League's pull is huge but will Ba leave Shenhua so soon?

Chances of happening - 7 out of 10. He meets Sullivan's criteria and players don't tend to stay in China for long.

Sao Paulo v Cruzeiro - Brasileirao Series A 2015

Alexandre Pato

Linked with many English sides as his Corinthians contract enters it's final year, the Brazilian side are desperate to get Pato's wages off their books. The 26-year-old emerged as a wonderkid at Internacional and signed for AC Milan in 2007 aged 17. There, an injury-ravaged spell in Italy ground his career to a halt. 63 goals from 150 games was still a good return, considering he pulled a hamstring three times in one year, in addition to various thigh injuries. But after five-and-a-half years he signed for Corinthians.

Criticised by fans after some poor performances and shocking misses, including a 'horror' penalty that eliminated his side from the Copa do Brasil, 'The Duck' was farmed out on loan to deadly rivals Sao Paulo. However, he's rediscovered his scoring touch there. Corinthians are actually paying him to score bucket loads at their rivals! So they want him gone immediately.

Pato himself has rejected a lucrative move to Chinese Second Division side Tianjin Quanjian, as playing in England is his dream. Agents have made sure he's been linked with almost every Premier League club, particularly Chelsea and Liverpool, so West Ham have a very realistic chance of nabbing a top striker on the cheap.

Chances of happening - 9 out of 10. The only doubt here is that Corinthians would rather sell for a small fee than loan him out. But Pato certainly matches up with Sullivan's promised disbelief.


Emmanuel Emenike

The controversial 28-year-old has recently had a loan spell at Al Ain terminated, after disappointing board members with a perceived lack of goal scoring. Nine goals in 15 is still alright, though! Nevertheless, Emenike was recently booed by his own fans and has now returned to Fenerbahce, where he was also booed by supporters. He demanded to be substituted.

He announced his retirement from Nigerian internationals in October and has also played in Russia, having been originally sold by Fenerbahce in 2011 without playing a game.

Chances of happening - 7 out of 10. It's not exactly 'unbelievable', as a lot of English fans won't have heard of him. However, he's been out on loan in an obscure league so I'm sure Fenerbahce are open to loaning him out again.


Andre-Pierre Gignac

One of last summer's most eye-opening transfers was Gignac's move to Mexican side Tigres. Linked with many European and Premier League sides, the 30-year-old turned down a new deal at Marseille and chose the unusual route of Mexican football. 

He was given a $4 million-per-year contract as Tigres splashed the cash in their bid to win the Copa Libertadores (which didn't work, they lost to River Plate). He won the first league championship of his career, defeating Pumas in a penalty shoot-out to capture the Apertura 2015 title. As expected, he's been a big hit in Mexico - maybe he regrets leaving Europe so soon? 

Chances of happening - 8 out of 10. He's strong and a good finisher, traits which are perfect for England. There's a good possibility that he wants to be close to France in time for Euro 2016.


Carlos Tevez

We finish on a magnificent idea - what if Carlos Tevez returned to England? He, like Ba, even has a history with West Ham. And what a signing it would be! After winning three Premier League titles, two Serie A trophies and one Champions League, the Argentine has had a successful career and is still deemed one of the world's top strikers. So it certainly matches with: "If I told you, you wouldn't believe it. I can't tell you which league because then you'll know exactly who it is. But he has played in higher leagues."

The problem is that Tevez has only just made a heroic €6.5 million return to his beloved Boca Juniors, which he'd wanted for a while. It's going well, too. So it's unlikely he'd ruin that by signing for West Ham after six months. 

Chances of happening - 4 out of 10. It'd be a great story, of course. But Tevez is back home at Boca and I don't think that will change any time soon, if at all.

West Ham fans - who do you think the striker will be? That's assuming you believe David Sullivan. Leave your comments below.

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