West Ham United signalled their intent this summer with big-money bids for the likes of Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, who is reported to be on Arsenal's wanted list, too. And while they may have missed out on their top targets, the club-record acquisition of Andre Ayew from Swansea underlines their status as a coming force in the English game, especially in light of their switch to the Olympic Stadium.

In the same week they signed Ayew for £20.5m ($26.5m), West Ham also concluded a deal for Arthur Masuaku from Olympiakos. Now, with the new Premier League season days away from starting, the Hammers appear close to having the squad they want.

That is, in part, because the club previously secured the permanent signing of the highly-rated Manuel Lanzini and the exciting young Spaniard Toni Martinez. Elsewhere, Sofiane Feghouli, Ashley Fletcher and Havard Nordtveit are other notable additions.

On the other hand, the Hammers have sold James Tomkins to their London rivals Crystal Palace for £10m, while a host of others players have also departed the club, including Joey O'Brien and Elliott Lee.

Last season

Premier League: 7th

FA Cup: Quarter-final

League Cup: Third round

Top scorer: Dimitri Payet (12)

Manager – Slaven Bilic

In the space of 12 months, the Croat has established himself as one of the most popular characters in the Premier League, partially due to his ebullient character but also because of his commitment to attack-minded football.

Bilic's side played some delightful stuff at times last season and were a marked contrast to some of the turgid displays served up by his predecessor Sam Allardyce.

Key player – Dimitri Payet

After a stunning debut campaign in the Premier League and a stellar showing for France at Euro 2016, Dimitri Payet has suddenly become one of the most talked-about players in Europe. The 29-year-old midfielder has been linked with a big-money move to Arsenal in recent weeks, but appears set to stay with the Hammers. However, unlike last season, the pressure will be on Payet to deliver the same consistent brilliance during the upcoming campaign.

Dimitri Payet
Dimitri Payet sparkled for West Ham last season Getty Images


Given their increasingly big budget and the lure of playing in the Olympic Stadium, West Ham appear to be a club very much on the up. The board will be expecting them to challenge for a Europa League place this season and having already spent big in the transfer window, with the expectation of one or two more to come, the Hammers may even consider themselves to be an outside bet for the Champions League.

IBT prediction – 7th

West Ham, under the leadership of Bilic, are undoubtedly a club going in the right direction – but competition in the Premier League is, perhaps, more fierce than ever before. For that reason, and that reason only, they could easily finish in the exactly the same position as last season. However, that should not mask the progress they have made, on and off the field, in recent years.