Slave Bilic hopes Simone Zaza can solve West Ham’s goalscoring problems after the club agreed a £24million fee for the Juventus striker.
Italy international Zaza is closing in on a move to east London as boss Bilic attempts to pep up his threadbare attack.
The Hammers have lost Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll to injury and were also without chief creators Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini as they crashed out of the Europa League to Astra Giurgiu on Thursday night.
But Zaza, 25, could hand West Ham a welcome boost ahead of Sunday’s trip to early Premier League pacesetters Manchester City.
“I don’t know the details, but we were in talks and it was quite close,” said Hammers boss Bilic. “I would love it to happen.”
It was left to rookie Argentinian forward Jonathan Calleri, then substitute Ashley Fletcher and, by the end, centre-half James Collins to try, and ultimately fail, to break down Astra as West Ham lost for the first time at the London Stadium.
Veteran former West Brom and Barnsley midfielder Filipe Teixeira took advantage of some poor defending on the stroke of half-time to secure a 1-0 win, and 2-1 aggregate victory, for a team currently 11th in Romania’s Liga 1.
West Ham were, at least, able to parade one new signing prior to kick-off in the shape of 20-year-old Swiss midfielder Edimilson Fernandes from FC Sion.
“He’s a good player who we have been watching for a whole year now,” added Bilic.
“He’s a very young, good midfielder. He’s not only for the future, but we are not expecting him to come in now and change the game for us. We bought him to be part of the squad.
“He has good pace, good legs, good physique, good skill and a great mentality. He’s a good signing for us.”
The Hammers can now get back to domestic duty, safe in the knowledge their Thursday evenings are their own again, and Bilic wants a response against Pep Guardiola’s in-form side.
“The good thing about football is when you lose a game like this that you have another game straight away,” he said
“I think it’s a good opportunity for us, apart from a few injuries, for this wound to heal quickly.”