Andy Carroll
Carroll could cost as much as £15m.

Sam Allardyce would claim he exceeded expectations during West Ham's first season back in the top flight after attaining a top half finish, but with the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Sunderland likely to improve, The Hammers could soon be looking over their shoulders.

Allardyce has already claimed that financial restrictions could scupper their transfer dealings this summer and having committed to paying £15m towards the renovation of the Olympic Stadium ahead of their move in 2016, co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan will be forced to watch the cash flow.

Business so far

Defender Razvan Rat became the club's first post-season addition from Shakhtar Donetsk on a free transfer, quickly followed by Real Betis goalkeeper Adrian. Carlton Cole, scorer of two goals last season, is the headline name to be released but Gary O'Neil continues to discuss terms over a new deal.

What they need

With the club's impressive Under-21 side set to subsidize The Hammers first team in the coming years, particularly in defence, attention must be paid to the front line. If not for Kevin Nolan's final day hat-trick against already-relegated Reading no West Ham player would have reached double figures last season. Also, despite the addition of Matt Jarvis and Joe Cole, Allardyce's side require an additional creative force; an alternative to the long ball.

Who could join

West Ham are understood to have reached an agreement with Liverpool regarding to signing of Andy Carroll, who netted seven times while on loan last season. The club have also had a bid rejected for Sevilla forward Alvaro Negredo as a possible alternative. Other candidates should the England international reject a permanent move to east London include Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku, who spent last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion, Vitesse Arnhem's goal hungry Wilfried Bony and Stoke City forward Peter Crouch.

Who could leave

With James Tomkins going nowhere according to Gold, possible departures remain few and far between but ask any Hammers fan and they will tell you the club's dead wood requires shifting this summer, if nothing else to alleviate the club's financial footing. With a host of loan players off the wage bill, Modibo Maiga and Alou Diarra should the next out the Upton Park exit door.

What the manager has said

"Somebody will have a bigger budget than us somewhere," said Allardyce. "I might not be able to afford Andy Carroll, full stop, even if I wanted him, even if the chairmen wanted him, even if we all wanted him, which we do, it will not be allowed to happen."

The Hammers' tight finances and Carroll's limited impact last season should see the club go down alternative avenues in their search for a striker.