Sunday, August 14, 2022

Gianluca Scamacca to West Ham: Hammers’ target could be perfect heir apparent for Michail Antonio

One of Italy’s brightest talents, Gianluca Scamacca, is on the verge of a move to West Ham United to provide David Moyes with another forward option. According to CBS Sports insider Fabrizio Romano, West Ham have agreed to a deal with €36 million upfront to secure Scamacca’s signature. The deal is also worth another €6 million due to add-ons and includes a ten percent sell on clause to ensure Sassuolo get a further windfall if the 23-year-old continues his current rise. Personal terms have already been agreed so this will likely become official quickly.

Squad depth was one of West Ham’s biggest issues last season as the team struggled during a dry spell that saw Michail Antonio go 15 league matches without scoring a goal for the Hammers. Not having another forward option outside of Jarrod Bowen — who was already operating as a starting winger —  Moyes had to play Antonio through his struggles but now, that could change. 

While Scamacca still needs molding to develop, the price West Ham are paying means they believe that he can help them now after scoring 16 goals in Serie A play last season. Looking at his expected goal output of 11.49, he did slightly overperform but that is easy to do when 46.8 percent of his shots were put on goal. What’s also interesting is that compared to other top forwards, Scamacca didn’t shoot much. Scamacca, Giovanni Simeone, and Gerad Deulofeu were the only members of the top ten scorers in Serie A who played in 30 matches while also taking less than 100 shots. Scamcca’s 3.30 shots per 90 minutes ranked him only 16th among players who played more than 900 minutes in Serie A last season. However, of those shots, 2.72 per 90 weren’t blocked, the 11th best total in Serie A. 

A player who takes comparatively few shots, but doesn’t get them blocked and gets a higher percentage on target, is generally one who thrives on service. For Scamacca, that service came from Domenico Berardi who also helped power the Sassuolo attack. That profile also bodes well for Moyes and West Ham as some forwards can’t cope with a decrease in shots if they’re moving to a team where they aren’t the number one attacking option. Scamacca seems like a player who will be happy to thrive on the service he gets from West Ham’s talented corps of wingers, while not needing to dominate the ball.

One worry for Premier League acclimation is how Scamacca will perform against better opposition. Only four of his goals were scored against teams finishing in the top seven last season with the other 12 coming against teams that finished at an average position of 14th in the league, showing that most of his damage was done against the bottom half. While this is fine for a young player, it does point to an adjustment period moving to England where things are much more crowded in the middle of the pack, and even the newly promoted sides can pose a bit of a problem. 

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Scamacca fed on service in the six yard box TruMedia/STATS perform

Stylistically, Scamacca is good in the air winning 56.7 percent of his aerial duels which will be music to Moyes’ ears. West Ham are also chasing Filip Kostic which could see them move to three at the back with a ton of crosses coming in from the left hand side to a combination of Antonio and Scamacca.  

Looking at Scamacca’s shot choices, it’s clear the first thing that there are things Moyes will look to change in Scamacca’s game. Antonio only took 14 of his 83 shots from outside the box last season as Moyes wants his forwards to stay forward and shoot from high percentage areas. Playing in a freer Sassuolo side, Scamacca was able to roam last season but he’ll need to reign things in even if he’s playing alongside Antonio.

As a moldable player, Scamacca can lead the line or he can play alongside another forward, but he will need to be allowed to have an adjustment period to Premier League life. If he’s thrown into the fire due to West Ham needing a solution now, things likely won’t go well. But if this is a transitional move it could work very well. Moyes typically takes a while to integrate new signings so if Scamacca follows that trend, this could be quite a coup for the Hammers. Antonio is 32 years old, and Scamacca can be the piece that transitions the side from the forward line of yesterday into the forward line of tomorrow.

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