No compromise

The signing of Max Kilman – almost certain to be the biggest outlay by West Ham in this current transfer window – is an important moment early in the reign of our new head coach Julen Lopetegui.

The arrival of the big central defender underlines a statement of intent by JL. A statement which says: "I’m in charge of this team. I know what I want. I know who I want. If you want me to do this job then I have to be allowed to bring in the players I need most!"



The £40million man [img: whufc.com]


How often in the past have we seen players we’re said to be linked with slip through the net because we’ve been slow off the mark? Where we’ve dilly-dallied and haggled endlessly – seemingly unwilling to negotiate beyond what we saw as a ‘justifiable’ bid?

A bid usually a gulf away from the value put on the player by the selling club. Obviously no-one wants to be ripped off. Taken for a ride. We all want value for money – a bargain if we can get it. But sometimes you have to go beyond Poundland prices to get what’s important to you.

Julen had worked with Kilman during his time at Wolves. He got to know the player. He was well aware of his abilities – his strengths and attributes. He liked what he saw then and he wanted that particular player in his camp and on his side again.

Kilman was clearly a player he was prepared to dig his heels in to get. He wasn’t prepared to take "no" for an answer. We were told from the outset the player was keen to rejoin his old boss. Wolves were resigned to having to sell – the sticking point was the fee.

What West Ham were prepare to pay. Initially we were told we’d made a bid in the region of £25m against Wolves’ valuation of £45m. Who actually arrived at that £25m figure we don’t know – or are ever likely to find out. But many of us would be prepared to have a good guess.

The fact the overall package now looks like being close to £40m, much nearer what Wolves were said to be looking for – suggests Julen’s determination to get his man wasn’t up for compromise.

Lopetegui wanted Kilman not only to be a pivotal figure in the centre of a defence that was clearly in need of strengthening, but also as someone who was a big voice on the pitch. A leader who had captained Wolves last season – and would be a strong candidate to take on the armband again at the London Stadium – with Kurt Zouma’s future at the club under scrutiny.

Technical Director Tim Steidten has received much attention for his player sorties in South America where he was instrumental in picking up teenage talent Luis Guilherme. Now it’s rumoured he’s casting his eye across Europe with a plethora of ‘potential’ signings on the menu.

But at home Kilman was very much Lopetegui’s baby. Steidten was of course back on these shores for the obligatory selfie with our new man. Timmy does enjoys a photo opportunity, so it seems!

Much was made of the fact the new model at West Ham was going to be Steidten in charge of all recruitment while Lopetegui handled the coaching – hence his title. A set-up it was claimed David Moyes was reluctant to fully agree to.

Julen may be more accommodating on that front, but this looks to have been one occasion where he’s proved to be more "old school". Come down firmly in favour of the player he wanted most and refused to budge until he got him. He has to be admired for that.

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