Transfer Talk: Help for the Hammers

Transfer Talk: Help for the Hammers

This article is part of our Transfer Talk series.

With Premier League teams already going through their respective preseason training programs, some fantasy soccer hosts are now allowing owners to select players for the upcoming 2015/16 campaign.

Per usual, the summer transfer window has resulted in roster shake-ups across England for fantasy owners to consider while building their lineups. In this latest installment of RotoWire's Transfer Talk articles, let's examine how some recent business could impact various teams in and around the back half of last season's top 10.

Bilic Bets On Payet

Following a disappointing 12th place finish last season, West Ham appointed Slaven Bilic as its new manager this summer and the former Hammers' defender wasted little time bringing his No. 1 target to Upton Park.

Thanks to a reported £11 million fee, West Ham was able to fend off competition for the services of French international attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet.

At 28 years old, Payet is fresh off leading Ligue 1 with 17 assists last season. Moreover, as Marseille's playmaker, Payet pulled off more key passes (134) than any other player in Europe's top 5 leagues.

Such supreme service should certainly be welcomed at West Ham, especially considering the Hammers scored more than one goal just twice in nearly five months of 2015 Premier League action.

Payet also scored seven league goals last season and averaged over nine goals per season in France since his breakthrough 2010/11 campaign with St. Etienne.

That proven track record differentiates the seasoned Payet from countryman Remy Cabella, who struggled upon arriving at Newcastle last season, and West Ham's stable of strikers should also see Payet's success continue in England.

With Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia to target, journeyman Stewart Downing compiled a personal-best eight assists for the Hammers last season. Considering Payet's comparatively higher quality, the Frenchman could very well become West Ham's top fantasy midfielder in his first Premier League campaign.

Reinforcements Sent To St. Mary's

Like West Ham, Southampton flirted with the top four throughout the first half of last season, but as manager Ronald Koeman's squad lost steam, their need for an alternative to striker Graziano Pelle became more apparent.

With that in mind, Southampton paid around £5 million to Malaga for Spanish forward Juanmi.

A relative unknown to most outside of Spain, the 22-year-old's reputation grew after he scored the lone goal in Malaga's surprise 1-0 victory at Barcelona last season. Along with that triumphant strike, Juanmi was called up for his first senior international cap last spring.

At season's end, the youngster finished as Malaga's top scorer with eight goals in 26 La Liga starts.

While that tally isn't overly impressive, Southampton possesses the ideal personnel to highlight Juanmi's strong suits. At just 5-7, 140 pounds, his best position is a free role behind a central striker, which Southampton clearly has in Pelle.

Should Koeman allow Juanmi to drift between the lines and use his pace to complement Pelle's power, Southampton could have another gem on their hands.

However, a steep adjustment to life in south England, as well as the physicality of the Premier League, should temper initial expectations of him this season.

Besides Juanmi, Southampton has also brought in defenders Cedric (Sporting Clube de Portugal) and Cuco Martina (FC Twente) to go with veteran goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham) this offseason.

With Nathaniel Clyne having been sold to Liverpool, both Cedric and Martina should split time at Southampton's vacant starting right back position.

Meanwhile, Stekelenburg could surpass 38-year-old Kelvin Davis as Southampton's
stand-in starting goalkeeper while preferred No. 1 Fraser Forster remains sidelined from last season's knee injury. Should that occur, Stekelenburg's fantasy stock could benefit from playing behind Koeman's well-organized defense.

Tottenham Ties Up Trippier

Another right back on the move this summer, former Burnley defender Kieran Trippier signed with Tottenham following a season that saw his team relegated from the Premier League.

Despite Burnley's ill fate, Trippier enjoyed a stellar 2014/15 campaign, registering 10 clean sheets and four assists while starting all 38 of the Clarets' league matches. In fact, Trippier led England's top-flight with 2.4 crosses attempted per game.

That steady service should be useful down Spurs' right side, so much so that manager Manuel Pochettino may opt to offload the once-promising Kyle Walker.

Before injuries limited him to just 15 league starts last season, Walker was touted as one of England's intriguing talents at his position.

However, as both Walker and Trippier enter their age-25 seasons, their respective fantasy stocks appear to be trending in opposite directions, leaving Trippier to reap the benefits of joining an improved squad that should advance his career.

Swansea's Stock Of Strikers

Elsewhere, Swansea City continues to impress with their transfer market savvy, as manager Garry Monk has acquired forwards Andre Ayew (Marseille) and Eder (SC Braga) for a combined £5 million after selling Wilfried Bony to Manchester City for an eye-opening £28 million in January.

With Ayew and Eder in tow, Swansea adds a pair of experienced attackers to go with Bafetimbi Gomis, who scored seven goals in his debut Premier League campaign.

Like Gomis, Ayew joins the Swans following a successful start in France, where he notably notched 53 goals and 15 assists over the past five seasons for Marseille.

A left-sided frontman, Ayew is also a key member of Ghana's national team and is still only 25 years old. What's more surprising is the fact that Swansea signed him for free this summer.

On the whole, Ayew represents a fantastic piece of business by Swansea and could prove plenty fruitful to fantasy owners as well, especially if his usual left wing station results in midfield-eligibility in certain formats.

A less accomplished commodity, Eder switches to Swansea having scored 26 goals in 60 appearances for SC Braga in his native country of Portugal.

However, at 27 years old, Eder's mark of 13 goals in 22 total appearances last season suggests he may be a late bloomer. Additionally, at 6-2, 179 pounds, Eder boasts physical gifts suited toward a center forward role in the Premier League.

While Gomis should be Swansea's top out-and-out forward this season, his presence should also allow Eder ample time to acclimate before ultimately gaining fantasy owners' attention as the long season unfolds.

Stoke's Joselu Joins From Germany

Unlike Eder, Stoke City's summer signing Joselu could make a more immediate impact in England.

Schooled at Real Madrid's academy, the now 25-year-old Spaniard spent the past two seasons in Germany, where he supplied totals of 24 goals and six assists for Frankfurt and Hannover.

Standing 6-3, Joselu's aerial presence rivals that of new teammate Peter Crouch, as he commandingly won over six headed duels per game while in the Bundesliga. As Crouch ages out of Stoke's squad, Joselu's size and skill give manager Mark Hughes a ready-made replacement for the long-serving striker.

With that in mind, Joselu could receive regular starts up top for the Potters, whose leading scorer last season, Mame Diouf, also arrived from Hannover, but does most of his damage from wide positions.

Given that dynamic, as well as Stoke's recent success with big club castoffs that include Diouf from Manchester United and Bojan from Barcelona, the ex-Madrid man Joselu holds solid sleeper potential heading into the upcoming Premier League campaign.

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Nick Pitner
Nick Pitner writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire. He supports Arsenal FC, the Green Bay Packers and the New York Knicks, while specializing in those respective sports in his coverage for the site.
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