Sky Sports reports that West Ham have agreed a fee with Lazio for their Macedonian striker Goran Pandev. It has been an open secret this summer that Gianfranco Zola has been desperately seeking to strengthen his forward line.Â With the News of the World alleging last weekend that Dean Ashton may have to retire from the game due to a degenerative ankle condition, adding a striker to the Hammersâ€™ squad has become of even greater importance.
Pandev began his career at FK Belasica where he only spent a solitary season in the first team. His prodigious talent became well known throughout Europe leading to Inter Milan signing the youngster.
As with many promising youngsters at big clubs in Italy, the Macedonian was loaned out to C1 side Spezia to gain experience.Â The following season, he was again sent on loan, this time to newly promoted Serie A side Ancona.
In 2004, Pandev arrived in Rome as part of a swap deal which took Lazioâ€™s Serbian star Dejan StankoviÄ‡ to Inter.Â Pandev impressed in his first year at Lazio, making 29 appearances and netting 3 goals. One of which included an unforgettable strike against Juventus where he beat Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta, before beating Gianluigi Buffon with an angled shot.
The strikerâ€™s star ascended even higher with Delio Rossiâ€™s appointment as manager. He partnered the youngster with Tommaso Rocchi upfront and the two formed a great understanding. He caused some of Europeâ€™s biggest teams to sit up and take note when he twice equalised against Real Madrid in the Champions League preliminary stages in 2007-2008.
Pandevâ€™s form meant that he has been continually linked with a move away from the Biancocelesti. However, he has always insisted that he would stay with the club until 2010 when his contract expires. In all, he has scored 48 goals in 149 games, an excellent return for a striker in Serie A.
Pandev possesses excellent pace and acceleration which is also coupled with great physical strength. This enables him to play of the shoulder of the last defender, accelerate onto through-balls, hold the defender off and beat the goalkeeper.Â He is left footed and hardly uses ever uses his right, meaning that sometimes he losses the opportunity of a strike on goal.
He possesses a strikerâ€™s knack of beingÂ in the right place at the right time, making him dangerous in the box and he feasts on loose balls. However, despite standing at 6ft, he is weak in the air, something which he will have to improve if he is to be successful in the Premier League.
Only a season ago Pandevâ€™s asking price was bracketed around the Â£15 million mark. However, the Macadonian is refusing to sign a contract extension, resulting in Lazio forcing him to train on his own. Pandev has retaliated by threatening legal action.
This unfortunate situation has lead to West Ham purchasing an exciting player for a bargain basement fee combined with a 20% sell on clause. With Carlton Cole beginning to fulfil his promise (back-passes aside) West Ham could have a threatening strike force which can capitalise on their exciting attacks that often do not get the finish that the move deserves.
All that remains is for personal terms to be agreed and for him to pass a medical. Until both these hurdles have been surmounted, Hammers fans should be wary of a bigger club hijacking their bid.
Video evidence of Goran Pandev can be seen here.