West Ham United have reportedly jumped to the head of the queue to sign Lazio star Keita Baldé after agreeing a fee of around £27 million. With fellow Premier League sides Chelsea and Everton showing interest along with Italian giants Inter, the Hammers are looking to get the transfer confirmed ahead of the rest. It is now up to the player, who is thought to be wanting to move away from Lazio to decide if West Ham is the right place for him.
Keita, who is a former product of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, has spent the past four seasons in Rome scoring 26 goals in 110 Serie A appearances. It was, however, his last season which has alerted the sides with money to his presence after scoring in half of his league games, 16 in 31. With transfers looking to be set for Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez, West Ham are starting to build a strong attack capable of scoring in the Premier League. If they can also land Keita, who created 43 chances for his team mates last season, they will have improved the first team from last season.
How does the 22-year-old winger stack up against the players he will be competing with for game time? After impressing last season, West Ham fans will be hoping for more of the same from Keita. The Senegalese international assisted three goals last season which is on par with Michail Antonio but less than Arnautovic’s return of five assists. Keita did outscore the others convincingly taking 16 league goals, seven more than West Ham top scorer Antonio and 10 more than fellow target Arnautovic. He was not always a starter for Lazio having played only 1932 minutes in last seasons league campaign but that only makes his goal return even more impressive. Keita scored on average a goal every 120 minutes compared to Antonio’s return of one every 270, over double the game time.
Considering that the proposed transfer fees would be similar, it looks to be Keita who will have the greater impact on the side next season than Stoke City target Arnautovic. He had a higher pass completion (81% vs 75%) and more shots on target (51% vs 44%) than the Austrian. Arnautovic did create more chances, 50 compared to Keita’s 43, but that was after playing 800 minutes more in the season.
Keira’s stats from last season signal that he would be an excellent signing for West Ham and match part of Slaven Bilic’s policy to bring in quality over quantity. With only one season at the top level behind him though, it is yet to be seen if he can impact the Premier League from the first minute.