7 The Daily Telegraph Tuesday 8 September 2020 *** Sport Football paid for him. So Diangana was, indeed, sacrificed. “Only time will tell if the Diangana sale was a big mistake or a good sale,” the source said, and the reasoning is that West Ham will use the money to buy an experienced central defender, which manager David Moyes says he needs, with a bid already tabled for Burnley’s James Tarkowski. In four pre-season games West Ham have not kept a clean sheet – culminating in conceding five to relegated Bournemouth at the weekend – while only the four teams who finished below them last season let in more goals. The West Ham hierarchy regard the sale of Diangana as logical and although that may be the case, they have played an undeniable part in allowing the imbalance in the squad to develop. There has been a during the Chilean’s ill-judged time in charge. The name Roberto Jimenez will resonate for years given how disastrous the goalkeeper was and other Pellegrini signings have also flopped. What does not help West Ham – and other Premier League clubs grappling with the same problem – are the ramifications of the coronavirus crisis. Already the club have lost a quarter of their home match-day revenue from last season and are budgeting for being up to 75 per cent down during this campaign, while there is their part of the £330million rebate due to the broadcasters still to be absorbed and a claimed £200 million of expenditure under Pellegrini to be dealt with. Unfortunately for West Ham, it comes at a time when the club do not have cash to spend in the transfer market and had been banking on generating funds before they could invest. But it is not a seller’s market. As one senior source put it: “We have no funds so we had to sacrifice a player and we had no offers for anyone else.” It is a lopsided squad and while the blame may partly be pinned on Pellegrini and his director of football, Mario Husillos, it is a corporate failure. Quite how West Ham managed to stockpile wide players and not have enough defenders is extremely odd and is symptomatic of a club who have veered in various directions without a clear road map. To compound the situation, a number of those players are not only earning very high wages but are older and, therefore, even more difficult to shift. West Ham would certainly much rather sell Felipe Anderson but would not get anywhere near the £36 million – then a club record – they lot of waste and it is a shame that a 22-year-old academy graduate who, by all accounts, was impressing in training and wanted to stay, had to go to cover the mistakes. In saying that, Diangana made only a handful of appearances for West Ham and it is interesting how his sale has become a fresh rallying point for the unhappiness with the owners. It feels like dangerous ground is being trodden even before the season has started, which raises the pressure on Moyes, who is caught in the middle. West Ham have gambled by selling Diangana. It is a calculated risk and, as is accepted, only time will tell if it was worth it. Above all though, it is a warning to the club and their owners that just as there is little money in the bank so there is little credit with the fans in what could be a testing new plot in this enduring soap opera.
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