West Ham must sell signings Champions League London Stadium dream - Walker

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019 8:30am

By James Gray @jamestingray

West Ham must convince any potential signings - and players considering leaving the club - that the Champions League is their eventual goal, according to one former player.

The Hammers have already secured their first signing of the summer, having sewn up a £24million deal for 23-year-old Spain international Pablo Fornals.

He is unlikely to be the only man West Ham bring in over the summer but there will be just as many fans sweat over those who might leave.

Issa Diop is already said to have been targeted by Manchester United while Declan Rice has been coveted by almost all the top clubs in England.

And former West Ham goalkeeper Jimmy Walker, who now works as Ipswich’s goalkeeping coach, believes Rice is one of those to whom the Hammers can sell the dream.

“He has to stay. He's done unbelievably. What a player and he's West Ham through and through,” Walker told The James Gray Show (weekdays 1.30pm-3.30pm).

“He's been excellent for fans who can connect with so well there. So it's great that someone like him playing alongside Mark Noble who has come through the same sort of thing because that can only help him.

“But I think it's massive for the club at the minute that they keep these players. They have to keep the players and bat the offers off.

“Then on the back of it talk to the players and say: ‘Listen we're not just keeping you for the sake of it, we want to kick on. We're going to buy these players that everyone is talking about. We want to be in the market for £50m, £60m+ players in the next couple of years. We want to push for the Champions League spots.’

“The facilities and the whole reason they went to the new place was to do that.

“They could have stayed at Upton Park and sold people and then brought new people through and everyone would have kept the great atmosphere and it would have been a club that might do well in the top half of the Prem and might struggle the next. And it would always be like that.

“But the new stadium was under the promise that we were going to go for it. We want it. We want to push them upper echelons of the Premier League.”

He added: “I think it’s a massive time for West Ham now. They're sort of at a crossroads at the minute.

“With the new stadium, I think everyone is starting to get back on board a little bit. If the fans see improvement on the pitch and the signings and they're keeping players like Diop a £70million player, and they can bat those bids off then I think the fans will take to the new stadium even more because that's what it was there for.

“I love Upton Park along with everyone else that went. It was a fantastic atmosphere but it had a ceiling.

“With the new stadium it was sold to the fans and new players as 'this is to take us to the Champions League’ and the facilities there are unbelievable.

“So if they can bat these off offers and go and buy people like Fornels then the fans will definitely be on board and I can only see a bright future for West Ham if they can bat those offers off.”

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