A number of reports suggest West Ham United will reignite their interest in Charlton Athletic defender Chris Solly this summer, with the right-back said to be one of the Hammers main transfer targets. The question is will the Championship player be able to make the step up and be a success at Upton Park if we were to seal his signature.
In all honesty I have not seen a great deal of Solly. Other than a few games where Charlton have been on the TV, and Solly has always impressed, I have relied on reports in trying to gather how good the 22-year-old really is.
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In terms of the current squad, despite it not being essential, a new right-back would be welcomed at West Ham. In both Guy Demel and Joey O’Brien we have two solid enough right-backs but both have big injury concerns and neither are getting any younger. Based on the reports, Solly could just be exactly what we are looking for.
A friend of mine, who has been a Charlton Athletic season ticket holder for many years, cannot speak highly enough of the young Englishman. He informs me that Solly is twice the player Carl Jenkinson was when Charlton sold him to Arsenal. For me Jenkinson, after a tough start, has performed well for the Gunners and has a big future in the game. Solly was always ahead of Jenkinson in the pecking order and has kept the likes of Tom Ince and Wilfried Zaha quiet when he has come up against them this season. I always feel it’s the pacey, direct wingers like an Ince or say an Aaron Lennon which Demel and O’Brien struggle to handle.
Solly is a fully committed, consistent defender with an excellent attitude. He has always given 110 percent to the Charlton cause and is apparently on course to become the Championship side’s player of the year for the second time running. Despite not being lightning quick, Solly is said to have a decent burst of pace and can offer plenty going forward, consistently making overlapping runs and putting in dangerous crosses. Solly has also filled in at left-back when required and performed well.
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The Rochester born defender is also one who likes to keep the ball on the floor and play football from the back. This is something for me we haven’t seen enough off from West Ham this season under Allardyce and you would hope if he did sign; his good footballing mentality would not be changed.
Arguably his biggest weakness is his size. At just 5ft 7ins there would be a worry that Solly could be bullied in the Premiership and be a little lightweight. Of course only time will tell, but at the end of the day, if you’re good enough, size is not an issue. Just ask Lionel Messi.
So what about price? One thing in our favour is that Charlton are not the most financially secure club in the world and like many clubs who were recently relegated from the Premiership will need the money. Baring in mind they sold Jenkinson for around £1 million; I think a fee of around £2 million would be realistic. Of course with young, English players, price tags are always massively inflated so he may exceed the £2 million valuation, but I think if Solly really is as good as many say, he would be worth it. After all, if it goes well, he could potentially be our right-back for the next 5-10 years. In addition, unlike some foreign or more experienced players, you wouldn’t expect Solly’s wage demands to be too steep.
Of course there is always a risk and an uncertainty when it comes to signing a younger player from the lower leagues as you are never quite sure if they have what it takes to perform at the top level. However for me, Solly is a risk worth taking and one that will not be too financially damaging to the club. My Charlton mate, accepting the step up will be tough, has every confidence that he can be successful in the Premier League and grow into an even better player. He is improving game on game and deserves the chance in the big time.
Over to you Sullivan, Gold and Allardyce.
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