West Ham are closing in on a deal for Mohammed Kudus. The Ajax man scored a Europa League hat trick on Thursday night in what may prove his final act for the Dutch club before a transfer to the Premier League.
Kudus’ knack for scoring goals from wide or advanced midfield positions makes him an exciting signing for the Hammers. His versatility means there are various ways in which he could fit into David Moyes’ plans but he’ll face a battle to make the starting eleven initially with the club already having some strong options in his favoured positions.
Despite Kudus’ involvement in the UEFA Europa League play-off round for Ajax, he will not be cup tied in Europe assuming he completes his move to London. West Ham are in the same competition having won the Conference League last term and Moyes may initially look to use Kudus most prominently in the Europa League group stage.
How could West Ham line up with Kudus?
Kudus as an attacking midfielder
There are various ways Moyes could fit Kudus into the team and much may depend on who is and isn’t available and whether anyone needs a rest. One option would be to deploy the Ghanaian as an advanced midfielder and the player himself has indicated he sees that as his best position.
That role in the West Ham side usually belongs to Lucas Paqueta. However, with doubts remaining over the Brazilian’s future at the club following the collapse of his move to Manchester City, Kudus could be his long-term replacement, even if Paqueta does remain at the London Stadium this transfer window.
Utilised as an attacking midfielder, Kudus would help with the build up play and get balls out to wingers Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma. He may not have the edge on Paqueta in terms of creative and ball playing qualities, but the prospect of Kudus making runs into the penalty area and playing off a powerful forward like Michail Antonio should enable him to continue his impressive goalscoring record in West Ham colours.
Kudus on the right wing
Kudus has also frequently played as a right winger and it was from that position which he scored a 50 minute hat-trick on Thursday night as Ajax hammered Ludogorets 4-1 in the Europa League.
Jarrod Bowen will take some displacing on that flank given the impact the 26 year old has made since his move to West Ham from Hull City in January 2020. The Englishman has been a firm fixture in the side and a regular goal threat with 41 goals in all competitions.
However the addition of Kudus will be real competition for Bowen and will make it easier for Moyes to rest his wideman. West Ham could potentially play more than 60 games in all competitions this season if they have another deep run in Europe and make progress in the domestic cups so having options will be vital if they want to have a successful campaign and avoid the kind of league slump that blighted them last term.
Kudus as the striker
One other option for the West Ham boss would be to use Mohammed Kudus as the striker in his favoured 4-2-3-1 system. Michail Antonio and Danny Ings are the main options in that role currently but Kudus would be a very different kind of forward to those two.
This is perhaps the least likely option given Kudus would be more of a false nine than an outright centre forward, something that doesn’t jump out as a particularly likely way a Moyes team would set up. However Kudus certainly knows where the back of the net is and any injury to Antonio or Ings may see the 23 year old come into this side up front.
Kudus topped 20 goals for club and country last season, netting twice for Ghana at the 2022 World Cup on top of his impressive form for Ajax. While he was clearly operating in a strong team in a weaker league, Kudus outscored both Antonio and Ings last term and will at least provide a bit of extra depth in the striker position, even if he is mostly used in midfield or in a wide role.