West Ham might have lost against Brentford on Saturday, but they were afforded a glimpse of the attacking quality that could take them to the next level as a team. Indeed, Mohammed Kudus’ stunning scissor kick finish to make it 1-1 was the highlight of the match and a demonstration of the Ghanian’s incredible talent.
The summer signing of Kudus from Ajax was a statement one. The 23-year-old was linked with a number of Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, but ended up at the London Stadium after the Hammers paid a reported £38m for the forward. That fee represented Kudus’ potential.
Under David Moyes, West Ham have made significant progress. They won the Europa Conference League last season having come within only a few points of finishing in the Premier League’s top four places the two seasons before that. Moyes might not be the most fashionable of managers, but West Ham’s trajectory has undeniably been an upward one during his tenure.
To take the next step, though, West Ham needed another attacking difference-maker and Kudus fit the bill. Michail Antonio has done an excellent job as the Hammers’ first-choice centre forward over the past few seasons, but Kudus offers much more than the Jamaican international in a number of different ways. Kudus has a broader skill set.
Kudus is a modern number nine in that he isn’t really a number nine at all. Certainly not in a conventional sense. His mobility and versatile means he can play in a number of different positions across the forward line. Kudus’ best quality is his awareness of space and how to use it to his advantage.
Moyes hasn’t offered much insight into his plan for Kudus. The Ghanian hasn’t yet been deployed as a centre forward and has instead been used in behind Antonio as West Ham’s number nine. Over time, though, it’s possible – likely, even – that Kudus will become the Hammers’ attacking hub around which they revolve. They are already playing to his strengths when he’s on the pitch.
“It takes a few months to adapt to the Premier League, whether a player is doing well or doing badly, but I think [Kudus] has settled in quite well,” said Moyes in a recent interview. “We see him as a big player for us. He’s young and we’re not pushing too hard, expecting too much too soon. We want him to improve and come along at his own speed.
“I think he could be a midfield player, or can play off the right for us, and he even played centre forward for Ajax as well. I think all those positions are really important for us because we know he can give us some variation and make it harder for other teams to figure out how we’re going to play as well.”
West Ham’s summer business generally saw Moyes lean into the well-established identity of his team. Edson Alvarez was also signed from Ajax to give the Hammers some physical presence in central midfield following the record sale of Declan Rice to Arsenal while James Ward-Prowse arrived to increase their threat at pieces. Konstantinos Mavropanos was signed in part to get on the end of those set pieces.
Kudus, however, hinted at the way Moyes could modernise West Ham and guide them into a new generation, even if that transition happens slowly. The Scottish coach has adapted his methods in recent seasons with the Hammers better on the ball than any of Moyes’ previous teams. The signing of Kudus is the next part of West Ham’s growth.