With less than a month to go before the start of the league season, we count down five of the best summer captures made by East London clubs this summer, and who we think will have the biggest impact in their respective leagues for West Ham, Charlton and Millwall.
5. Angelo Ogbonna - West Ham - £7.9million
Luminaries such as Ezequiel Mangala, Andrea Dossena and Marco Matterazzi warn us that defensive success in Italy seldom leads to Premier League perfection. Especially when said big-money signing is in and out of the first team of the club that sold him.
However, Juventus have one of the tightest defences in world football, and playing second fiddle to Giorgio Chiellini is not to be sniffed at. What’s more, Ogbonna (left) was chased by centre-half starved Everton during the summer, and he has 10 caps in the Italian national side to his name. And he’s still only 27. All this for under £8million. Could we have seen one of European football’s biggest bargains?
4. Simon Makienok - Charlton - Loan
Yes, yes, we know he’s 6ft 8ins and probably weighs as much as a small tractor, but Simon Makienok looks set to be more than just the butt of one or two Peter Crouch jokes this season.
The gargantuan Danish striker arrives with a huge pedigree playing in the Danish league. More than just a target-man, the forward had a brilliant goals-to-game ratio playing for Brondby, and has a turn of pace and skill to boot.
A move to Serie A side Palermo probably came too soon for the 24-year-old, who will be wanting to reignite his career with the Addicks in the Championship this season. If he puts the hours in, he could become a cult hero.
3. Tony Craig - Millwall - Free
If there’s one manager who hasn’t exactly been losing his mind in the recruitment department so far this summer, it’s Neil Harris. Despite a relegation-prompted summer clear out, the club has yet to truly get going in the transfer market. Probably down to their near-obsessive yet fruitless pursuit of Bradford City striker James Hanson.
Yet Millwall fans at least have something to cheer about in the form of Tony Craig. The centre back has re-signed for the club after being released by Brentford. Should be a solid and calming presence in the centre of a defence that so badly needed one last season.
2. Alou Diarra - Charlton - Free
The old limbs may be creaking, and he can’t keep up with the young ‘uns like he used to, but what Championship club would say “no” to a player of Diarra’s experience and know-how? Diarra excelled during a short term stint at the club, and the club was delighted to tie him down for an extra year at the end of last season.
The former West Ham midfielder is a legend in his native France, being part of the all-conquering Bordeaux team of the late 00s. He also has 44 caps for France, and will provide a steady hand in the Addicks’ midfield. Whispers of a possible relegation battle have echoed around the Valley recently – not if Diarra’s got anything to say about it.
1. Dimitri Payet - West Ham - £10.9million
For every Alou Diarra, you need a Dimitri Payet. A maverick whose creativity and dynamism sparkles with enigmatic zeal. Whose touch can bring the ball to a standstill. Whose shot can sting the fingers of any leaden-handed goalie. Whose pinpoint crosses can find the forehead of a 6ft 4ins ponytailed Geordie.
Payet is one of European football’s A-listers, bagging an astonishing 21 assists for Marseille last season, and Hammers fans should feel very lucky to have him. A strong physique should ensure he does not get muscled out of matches by beefy premier league defenders, while his ball playing ability and eye for goal are up there with the best.
Make no mistake, West Ham have made the footballing world take notice with the signing of Payet.