Bienvenido and bienvenue . . .

It’s only fitting that a team located in an internationally flavored borough would add more foreign members to its squad.  West Ham announced the dual signings of Mexican international Pablo Barerra and French international (barely, but one cap counts) Frederic Piquionne last Friday.  The two additions along with the earlier signing of Thomas Hitzlsperger make a total of three new players brought into the squad for the upcoming season.

Outside of the Mexican league, Barrera was a relative unknown until his showing in this year’s World Cup.  Brought in as an impact substitute for El Tri, the winger used his pace and on-the-ball skills to attack from the outside areas.  His largest contribution to the Mexican side was the foul he drew on Eric Abidal which resulted in a penalty kick (subsequently converted by Cuauhtemoc Blanco) to clinch Mexico’s victory over France in the group stage.  Having spent his whole career at Universidad Nacional in the Primera Division de Mexico, Barrera was signed for 4 years with a 1 year team option, following a £4 million transfer fee.  Nicknamed “Dynamite” for his speed, Barrera is a true two-footed player who can attack defenses off  the dribble and has the ability to provide accurate crosses into the middle of the field.  Last season, West Ham had a decided lack of width and pace on the wings, save for Junior Stanislas, who for some reason was reluctant to attack his man when he had the ball.  With a nice target like Carlton Cole waiting in the middle, hopefully Barrera can provide the play necessary to open up the field for the West Ham offense.

The other signing was a shrewd, and more importantly, cheap move for Olympique Lyonnais striker Frederic Piquionne.  Having spent last year under Avram Grant while on loan at Portsmouth, West Ham was able to pen Piquionne to a three year contract (wages undisclosed) for a meager £1 million transfer fee.  Another strong, powerful striker in the mold of Carlton Cole, he chipped in with 5 league goals for Portsmouth last year.  Watching some of Portsmouth’s games last season, it appeared that he provided pace and ball control as a target forward, combined with intelligent runs in the final third of the field.  He was not exactly a clinical finisher, as even he commented during a recent interview, but as long as he is able to create chances both for himself and the team, the money spent to bring him in would be well worth it.

It is promising that the management team has brought in additional firepower for the squad, especially considering that two of the top four goal scorers from last year are no longer with the team.  Hitzelsperger should also be able to provide some goals from the midfield, something that was severely lacking at times last season.  As long as West Ham brings in one or two more defensive players (the rumors have started that there are ongoing discussions with a couple experienced players), the squad is shaping up to be strong enough and deep enough to have a solid season.  Having finished 10th in the league in goals scored (a reasonable position), the major problems with the team were on the defensive side, with 66 goals shipped out (tied for 15th out of 20 teams).  Cut that number substantially and there will be no fears of relegation, and instead a fight for a position in Europe.

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~ by ar_sage on July 22, 2010.

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