Following the release of the new Premier League fixtures, fans of clubs up and down the country are already looking forward to the start of the new season.
West Ham United are a club on the up, and their fans in particular have reason to be excited. The start of a new chapter in their history at their new home begins on August 20, when they welcome Bournemouth to the Olympic Stadium, during the second game-week.
Another reason for Hammers fans to be optimistic about the upcoming campaign is their intelligent player recruitment that shows no sign of abating.
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With the free signings of Havard Nordtveit and Sofiane Feghouli already complete, the east London outfit's owners remain active in the transfer market, as they look to replicate the success they had last summer with the acquisitions of Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini.
How much success West Ham can achieve next season will depend heavily on what approach they take towards the players they look to sign this summer. Do they go for statement signings? Or do they continue their impressive progression with smart additions of relatively unknown talents? A mixture of the two would be the ideal scenario.
They seem to already have developed a very strong squad of players, but one key area that certainly needs addressing is the defence, with the right-back and centre-back positions in need of attention.
James Tomkins deputised in the right-back slot after the long-term injury to Carl Jenkinson last term, and now that the latter has returned to parent club Arsenal, the Hammers must look to bring in a proven full-back so that Tomkins can once again be used in his customary central role, either as a starter or as a back-up.
However, during the January transfer window, the Hammers did bring in Sam Byram from Leeds United, who could be seen as a suitable starter for Slaven Bilic's side.
If Bilic isn't ready to make Byram his regular right-back, there are many options out there, including Gregory van der Wiel, whose contract at Paris Saint-Germain expires at the end of the month. The 28-year-old Holland international would bring quality and experience to the Hammers back-line, and few could argue that he would be an upgrade on what they already have.
Another area that needs strengthening is the centre-forward position. The West Ham owners have made it clear that they are looking to sign a top-class striker over the summer, and if they manage to sign a 20-goal per season marksman, they will be in a very good postion to challenge for a top-four spot.
Ligue 1 seems to be a hotbed for striking talent at the moment, and the Hammers have reportedly had numerous bids for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette rejected. Michy Batshuayi is another rumoured target, and either of those names would instantly improve Bilic's side.
West Ham are a club on the up, and with a man like Bilic at the helm, and continued backing from the owners, the sky is the limit.
Good times indeed for Hammers fans.
How successful can West Ham United be next season? Leave us YOUR predictions in the comment section below!
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