The dark horses of the Top 4 race last season, West Ham United have started their transfer business for the season as they are eyeing a move for Paris Saint Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who has become the fourth choice keeper at the club behind Sergio Rico, Keylor Navas and PSG’s new summer signing Gianluigi Donnarumma.
One of the best keepers in the Premier League last season, Alphonse Areola made quite a name for himself at Fulham as his acrobatic saves made him a sight to see for the fans towards the end of the season. While Fulham did not manage to avoid relegation, Areola returned to PSG after his loan deal expired at the end of the season, with the Hammers now interested in procuring his services, possibly on a permanent basis.
Why do West Ham United need Alphonse Areola?
Although West Ham were relatively solid at the back last season, their first-choice goalkeeper in Lukasz Fabianski is 36 years old, and his contract is set to expire in June next year. Additionally, the backup goalkeepers in Darren Randolph and David Martin are also on the wrong side of 30 and are not good enough to play in the first team week in and week out. West Ham’s U-21 goalkeeper Nathan Trott, who has shown signs of promise, is set to be sent out on loan to French side Nancy.
To that end, West Ham needs a new goalkeeper, who has at least some experience in the Premier League and has the ability to replace Fabianski. Areola fits the bill as he has shown previously with PSG, Villarreal, Real Madrid, and Fulham that he can certainly be the No:1 at a club, while his age (28) also shows that he can continue to be the main man between the sticks for at least 5 more years.
Alphonse Areola’s season with Fulham last year in numbers:
Areola made 36 Premier League appearances last season, as he only missed out on 2 games of the season because he was signed towards the end of the delayed summer transfer window last year.
He made the fifth most saves in the league last season (115), only behind Sam Johnstone, Aaron Ramsdale, Emiliano Martinez, and Illan Meslier. It is also important to understand that Fulham only conceded 48 goals last season, six more than Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and a lot of this had to do with Areola’s unbelievable saves.
Another area where Alphonse Areola succeeded quite a bit last season was the number of crosses he stopped inside the penalty box by either handling the ball or punching it out and thereby rescuing his backline from danger. His crosses stopped percentage was 9.8%, better than any other Premier League goalkeeper last season.
However, the most impressive stat Areola achieved last season was a 100% pass completion rate in all of his short passes (between 5 and 15 yards). While most keepers come into the 95 percentile, it is incredibly hard to not make a mistake, and Areola achieved to do so as he completed all 221 of his short passes. Areola, however, did suffer when he made long-distance passes (above 40 yards) as he achieved only a 45% pass completion rate. This is a feature he will have to improve on, should he join the Hammers this summer.
Areola was also brilliant in 1v1’s as his 6’4 stature was enough to intimidate most strikers while his positioning is also sublime when his team is being counter-attacked. A starting position is crucial for any keeper, and Areola has perfected this ability over time.
When could West Ham complete this deal?
Once Donnarumma completes his medical with Paris Saint Germain, which should be by the end of this week, PSG will look to offload Alphonse Areola, and as per The Evening Standard, West Ham are closing in a move to sign the Frenchman on a loan deal with an option to buy next season.
This could be a great signing for West Ham as they look to make yet another push into the Top 4 next season, but given that the traditional Top 6 have also strengthened in particular areas, it will be huge ask for the Hammers to enter that race again. However, everybody likes an underdog, and with Areola manning their goal, West Ham stands more than a chance to become the dark horse in the Top 4 race again.