It's just like starting over: a squad for next season

Well, not only have West Ham gone and got bad again, but it looks like we have a squad that still needs a rebuild.

After doing it last summer things have turned a bit sour, so we're either continuing the rebuild or doing another. Either way, we have a range of players getting into their thirties/late thirties and a few whose contracts run out at the end of this or next season.

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Attila Szalai (Fenerbahçe)

And whilst that is what we discussed on the KUMB West Ham United Podcast this week, we looked at whether we should change the recruitment style, how we use the money, what places need bigger fees and how we bring home grown talent in.

Some will be things like "Michael Keane, English, free, worth a back up slot" as we felt you can be smart with quotas for cheaper slots.

GKs: Fabianski, Areola, Randolph
CBs: Aguerd, Zouma, Kehrer, Luizao, Ogbonna
FBs: Cresswell (HG), Emerson, Coufal, Johnson (HG)
MF: Rice (HG), Soucek, Paqueta, Downes (HG), Lanzini, Coventry (HG), Fornals
FW: Benrahma, Cornet, Bowen (HG), Scamacca, Ings (HG), Antonio (HG)

I didn't put a lot of effort into researching contract dates, but found the following:

Out of contract at the end of the season: Ogbonna, Lanzini, Coventry, Randolph, Cresswell
Out of contract at the end of next season: Okoflex, Johnson, Fabianski, Soucek

That's the 24 we have currently, no youth players included and quite a few of those are at the point of their careers where they have to be registered next season. We will need to make decisions on the Under 21s, need to adhere to a maximum of 17 players who were not trained in England between the ages of 15 to 21. I won't bother with European quotas. So, really, you probably need eight British players.

You'll want to think of the blend, some will prefer more older, British pros, some might look to throw the bigger money at young English players like Gallagher, etc.

So the challenge, dear reader - should you wish to accept it - is to build next year's West Ham Utd squad, on the basis that the club retains its Premier League position.

Realistic spends only, I would say you can give yourself £80m for Rice and another £50-60m on top. If you're selling players, go to the lower end of their expected value. It’s not particularly important who you buy, but where you would spend the money and on what type of player (starter, squad, home-grown, a position you’d try fill for free) to see what priorities are and how to balance it with need.

Here are some out-of-contract players across the world. Feel free to note which players you'd send on loan, things like that.

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James Bree of Luton Town

My fellow Podcaster Jack Elderton has got me onto thinking about tactical flexibility. We need more players who can play a few systems, rather than having a couple of systems we like to play and players who are only useful on that day (Emerson comes to mind - whether you like him or not, that's what he's been).

I would aim as 4-3-3 as the goal, but for a squad capable of playing 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1.

I would loan out Luizao and Longelo. I would try sell Emerson, but also be looking to loan him out, too. He's clearly game, he loved a bit of a loan at Chelsea. And that means I'm keeping Aaron Cresswell, who gives us some continuity due to his longevity, a good character, being an older British pro and, importantly, can play LB and LCB.

I like the idea of both James Bree (from Luton) and Jacob Greaves (Hull) as suggested by my fellow KUMB Forum member YorksHammer. I wouldn't mind them in, which gives us long term full back and centre back options. I would also follow Tosin Adarabioyo (Fulham) and Mohammed Salisu (Southampton).

If we want more solid, immediate quality, Attila Szalai (Fenerbahçe) and Evan Ndicka (Eintracht Frankfurt) could both be available. However, I think it makes sense for our backups to be home-grown, where possible, and young.

Vladimir Coufal goes, Ben Johnson stays. I am enjoying Coufal's return to form, but his departure is just being delayed. I think it's fair to him to get first team football and us move on to a faster, more progressive player. I am sloppy on full backs, but I liked Ramy Bensebaïni (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man Utd), wouldnt be against Héctor Bellerín (Barcalona, contract expires 2023), Diogo Dalot or Luke Shaw (both also Man Utd).

I think all those - barring AWB - have wing back potential. I would also look at wingers who could cope with it.

In midfield, Manuel Lanzini goes, Declan Rice goes and Conor Coventry goes. I would love us to replace Rice with Tyler Adams (Leeds Utd). Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina) will be available and the shine might have worn off. Could be.

I would also say Ellyes Skhiri of Köln, who we appear to have tracked before, would be a great shout. I'd take a look at Philip Billing and Tom Davies (Everton) as back-ups. If we are spending big, Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) might move this summer with a year remaining on his contract. Sander Berge (Sheffield United) is also a good option. I would be open to some wheeling and dealing here, with Tomas Soucek being somewhat expendable.

Chelsea will be selling, and I hold an interest in Loftus-Cheek, Conor Gallagher and Callum Hudson-Odoi. They have a good range of young players, too. Lewis Hall and Carney Chukwuemeka would both interest. Armando Broja, if recovered, may be worth a go now we'd have three strikers.

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Viktor Gyökeres (Coventry City)

Jack and Callum both mentioned Reiss Nelson (Arsenal) on the KUMB Podcast, who I think is a good gamble. If the club have identified Terem Moffi (Lorient) as a talent, having also looked at Viktor Gyökeres (Coventry City), it's hard to know if I want two of Broja, Moffi and Gyökeres or one. Ideally, we find a winger who can play up front, like Maxwell Cornet, to compete for Cornet's place.

My spree ends with Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), and with an idea to see what money Said Benrahma might fetch.

Leaving us with the following:

GK: Areola, Fab, Trott (Home Grown)
FB: STARTING LB (Bensebaini), STARTING RB (AWB), Cresswell (HG), Johnson (HG),
CB: Aguerd, Zouma, NEW BACKUP CB (Greaves) (HG), NEW BACKUP CB (Adarabioyo) (HG), Kehrer
CM: Soucek, Paqueta, Downes (HG), Adams, Gallagher, Fornals
AM/Wingers: Cornet, Bowen (HG), Johnson (HG), Reiss Nelson (HG)
ST: Scamacca, Ings (HG), Younger, cheaper striker (Gyokeres/Moffi)

The biggest problem here is that I can't see that being less than about a £170m spend and with £80m incoming from Rice's departure, I've gone way over budget. I would be tempted to see who I could get on loan in midfield instead of buying Gallagher.

I've put (HG) next to players I would definitely keep and next to players where I think their role should be filled by a home grown talent, rather than a foreign one. If we were to sign Brennan, I'd fund it by selling Benrahma. Soucek could go and be replaced by a loan like Loftus-Cheek or Scott McTominay.

This would bring the average age down considerably and provide some good continuity with Pablo Fornals, Cress, Lukasz Fabianski, Jarrod Bowen and a lot more pace!

Which means saying bye to Coufal, Lanzini, Emerson, Dawson, Ogbonna, Randolph, Antonio, Coventry (not that I am eager to chuck him), Rice and Benrahma. That's sizeable, but I would also (unless something spectacular happens) be bringing in a coach who would find better and more creative attacking solutions.

Brendan Rodgers is the kind of name I could see being acceptable, not that I like him particularly . Graham Potter is the dream, which would also be true (for me) of Maurizio Sarri. Over to you!

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