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Chuba Akpom: Hammers Ready to Ward off Reims’ Competition
In spite of West Ham having assembled a decent team at the beginning of the season, putting the ball behind the goalkeepers have been the bane of the club so far. To resolve the challenge, Coach Manuel Pellegrini is turning his attention to PAOK Athens’ Nigerian striker Chuba Akpom to bolster his striking force, but faces competition from German and French top-flight teams
With a paltry 17 goals in 15 matches, English Premier League club West Ham are battling relegation in spite of having assembled a decent team at the beginning of the season and as a way out the East London Club are looking to sign PAOK’s Nigerian striker Chuba Akpom but face competition from German and French top-flight teams.
The Hammers are said to have enquired about the availability of the former Arsenal starlet who has made just three starts in the Greek Super League this season from a possible 12.
West Ham signing Akpom would ease the goalscoring burden on Sebastien Haller who has failed to find the net in his last six appearances in the Premier League, while another summer signing, Albian Ajeti, has yet to open his account after six games.
However, French Ligue 1 club Reims and Bundesliga outfit Cologne are also interested in a move for the Hale End Academy product.
Akpom was on the books of West Ham’s London rivals Arsenal for 16 years before sealing a switch to PAOK in the summer of 2018.
With his contract expiring at the end of next season, it has been claimed that the 24-year-old is not interested in extending his stay in Thessaloniki because he’s frustrated by his limited playing opportunities this term.
A lot of Hammers fans will want to see Haller, who was dropped to the bench in the recent win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, starting upfront with a partner in a new system. In that aforementioned win over Chelsea, Michail Antonio started as a striker and he had Felipe Anderson behind him in the 10 role in a lesser-seen 4-4-1-1 shape.
So far this season, the common set-ups that Manuel Pellegrini has opted to use are the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-1-4-1. At no point has he gone for a two upfront, and that could well be because aside from Haller the only other natural striker is Albian Ajeti, the raw Swiss forward signed this summer.
With that in mind, bringing in a new striker looks to be something Pellegrini wants, and reports claim that the Hammers are looking into bringing an ex-Arsenal striker to the club, and he’s a man who recently went invincible.
That man is Chuba Akpom. The 24-year-old is currently plying his trade in Greece with PAOK Salonika but has recently been left out of the side, starting just three league games this season so far, and is reportedly uninterested in signing a new contract.
The Irons wanted Akpom over the summer, and after missing out on the rapid front-man back then, Pellegrini is keen to go back in for his man in the mid-season window, although he could face competition for Akpom from Ligue 1 Reims and German side Cologne.
Earlier this year, the 23-year-old goal poacher revealed his intention of featuring for the Super Eagles at senior level and has turned his back on England to play international football for Nigeria.
Born and raised in the European country, Akpom has represented England at every youth level between U-16 and U-21, featuring 41 times and scoring 18 goals. However, Akpom disclosed he is swapping allegiances permanently, after giving the issue a great deal of thought.
“I’ve only just recently switched my allegiance, so I’ve signed the documents and hopefully in the next few weeks it will be approved to enable me to play for Nigeria,” he told BBC Sport.
“I’ve been wanting to do that for many years now but not many people know this. It’s just been a matter of sorting it out, which is now in a process. I’m looking forward to it. It was a personal decision. I’m Nigerian and my whole family feels very Nigerian and it will be nice to represent Nigeria.”
Akpom had trained with Gernot Rohr’s men at Barnet in March 2017, and he is excited with the prospect of linking up his childhood friend, Alex Iwobi.
“It will also be nice to link up with Alex Iwobi again and play for the national team. We started playing when we were younger together and to make that step to play for the national team together will be amazing,” he continued.
“I wasn’t surprised because at the time he wasn’t playing for England, he came out of nowhere and he started playing for Arsenal and from there he just progressed, so I wasn’t surprised when he picked to play for Nigeria.
“It was the better decision to make, now he’s played in the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. I’ve always said that I’d like to play with him again for Nigeria, we’ve always spoke about that.
“We’ve played together since we were five and six years old, we grew up together. It took me a while to settle down and to get used to the environment in Greece. Going to play abroad and in another league has helped me, but I hope to take my career to the next level with Nigeria.”
Before joining the Greek Super League outfit, the 23-year-old was sent on loan at Brentford, Coventry City, Nottingham Forrest, Hull City, Brighton & Hove Albion, and Sint-Truiden following his inability to get regular action at his boyhood club, Arsenal.