Arsenal

Why Victor Boniface may be the £50million striker West Ham want – but is what Arsenal need

Why Victor Boniface may be the £50million striker West Ham want – but is what Arsenal need

In our latest collaboration, Mirror Football and WhoScored run the rule over Victor Boniface, the prolific Bayer Leverkusen striker who West Ham are very keen on – but who may have higher aspirations, and be perfect for Arsenal

Disaster struck for Nigeria, Bayer Leverkusen and, cruelly, Victor Boniface in December.

Gearing up for the Africa Cup of Nations, the 23-year-old sustained a groin injury while training with his country in Dubai. Xabi Alonso had expected to be without the striker until mid-February. Now he won’t feature for Bayer Leverkusen again until April.

This period will prove decisive for Bayer Leverkusen. Alonso’s side currently lead the Bundesliga and remain the only side in Europe’s top five leagues yet to lose a league game this season. Boniface has shone as the German side’s leading man having scored 10 and laid on an additional seven assists as Die Werkself seek to shake the ‘Neverkusen’ tag. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.81 is the best of all players for the Bundesliga leaders.

Despite only joining from Union Saint-Gilloise last summer, Boniface’s time in Germany may be coming to an end sooner rather than later with the Nigerian hitman attracting interest from a number of Premier League sides.

On the cusp of signing Borja Iglesias from Real Betis on loan, the German giants have moved to sign cover for their leading marksman. Indeed, West Ham are among the frontrunners, reported to be weighing up a club-record £50million move for the frontman as they look to bolster their frontline.

The Hammers have been hamstrung by attacking absentees in recent weeks, with Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Mohammed Kudus all sidelined for one reason or another. Armando Broja is another target for West Ham, who are closing in on the signing of Kalvin Phillips from Manchester City.

Technical Director Tim Steidten is believed to be the one pressing for the signing of Boniface and given his ties to Bayer Leverkusen; that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

However, for all of Boniface’s qualities, is he the striker that West Ham need to help break back into the top six?

One of the reasons Antonio has lasted as long as he has as first choice frontman under Moyes is that he is a selfless runner who is willing to sacrifice goals to help West Ham defend from the front.

Sebastien Haller and Gianluca Scamacca, to name two, are high-profile strikers who have come and gone at the London Stadium with the pair not willing to run the channels in the same manner as Antonio.

There is reason to believe that Boniface would fall into the same category as Haller and Scamacca were he to complete a big money move to east London, with the former relying on others to carry out the defensive duties in the final third. As such, Boniface has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored weakness of ‘defensive contribution’ for that very reason.

The young forward comes alive when his team are on the front-foot, as noted by his goal haul in the Bundesliga this season.

For any side in need of a free-scoring frontman, they could do worse than move for Boniface. Unsurprisingly, Arsenal are another London side to have been credited with an interest in the Bayer forward.

While the Gunners need to sell before they can buy, there is a reason they have been linked with a new striker this month given their goal woes this season. Bukayo Saka is currently Arsenal’s top scorer with just six league goals to his name. Strikers Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus have netted just eight times between them.

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Why Victor Boniface may be the £50million striker West Ham want – but is what Arsenal need
In our latest collaboration, Mirror Football and WhoScored run the rule over Victor Boniface, the prolific Bayer Leverkusen striker who West Ham are very keen on – but who may have higher aspirations, and be perfect for Arsenal

Victor Boniface in action for Bayer Leverkusen
Victor Boniface is a wanted man after his exploits with Bayer Leverkusen (Image: Getty Images)
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ByBen McAleer
07:00, 25 Jan 2024UPDATED07:24, 25 JAN 2024
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Disaster struck for Nigeria, Bayer Leverkusen and, cruelly, Victor Boniface in December.

Gearing up for the Africa Cup of Nations, the 23-year-old sustained a groin injury while training with his country in Dubai. Xabi Alonso had expected to be without the striker until mid-February. Now he won’t feature for Bayer Leverkusen again until April.

This period will prove decisive for Bayer Leverkusen. Alonso’s side currently lead the Bundesliga and remain the only side in Europe’s top five leagues yet to lose a league game this season. Boniface has shone as the German side’s leading man having scored 10 and laid on an additional seven assists as Die Werkself seek to shake the ‘Neverkusen’ tag. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.81 is the best of all players for the Bundesliga leaders.

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There’s even a solid argument to be made that Boniface has already played his final game at the BayArena.

 

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Despite only joining from Union Saint-Gilloise last summer, Boniface’s time in Germany may be coming to an end sooner rather than later with the Nigerian hitman attracting interest from a number of Premier League sides.

On the cusp of signing Borja Iglesias from Real Betis on loan, the German giants have moved to sign cover for their leading marksman. Indeed, West Ham are among the frontrunners, reported to be weighing up a club-record £50million move for the frontman as they look to bolster their frontline.

The Hammers have been hamstrung by attacking absentees in recent weeks, with Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Mohammed Kudus all sidelined for one reason or another. Armando Broja is another target for West Ham, who are closing in on the signing of Kalvin Phillips from Manchester City.

138437485146
Technical Director Tim Steidten is believed to be the one pressing for the signing of Boniface and given his ties to Bayer Leverkusen; that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Victor Boniface celebrates after scoring in the Europa League
Victor Boniface celebrates after scoring in the Europa League ( Image: Christopher Neundorf/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
However, for all of Boniface’s qualities, is he the striker that West Ham need to help break back into the top six?

One of the reasons Antonio has lasted as long as he has as first choice frontman under Moyes is that he is a selfless runner who is willing to sacrifice goals to help West Ham defend from the front.

Sebastien Haller and Gianluca Scamacca, to name two, are high-profile strikers who have come and gone at the London Stadium with the pair not willing to run the channels in the same manner as Antonio.

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There is reason to believe that Boniface would fall into the same category as Haller and Scamacca were he to complete a big money move to east London, with the former relying on others to carry out the defensive duties in the final third. As such, Boniface has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored weakness of ‘defensive contribution’ for that very reason.

The young forward comes alive when his team are on the front-foot, as noted by his goal haul in the Bundesliga this season.

For any side in need of a free-scoring frontman, they could do worse than move for Boniface. Unsurprisingly, Arsenal are another London side to have been credited with an interest in the Bayer forward.

Mikel Arteta has seen his attack somewhat stall this term
Mikel Arteta has seen his attack somewhat stall this term
While the Gunners need to sell before they can buy, there is a reason they have been linked with a new striker this month given their goal woes this season. Bukayo Saka is currently Arsenal’s top scorer with just six league goals to his name. Strikers Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus have netted just eight times between them.

While the plan under Mikel Arteta is to have the versatile Jesus lead the charge, allowing Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to maximise the space vacated by the Brazilian, if the pair aren’t in great form – the latter has only struck four times in England’s top tier this term after his brace against Crystal Palace – then the Gunners struggle in front of goal as was the case prior to the mauling of the Eagles.

With a mobile frontman in the form of Boniface spearheading the Arsenal offensive, Arteta would be able to utilise a striker who knows how to put the ball in the back of the net and shows a clear desire to bring others into play. Seven assists is a clear indication of the willingness to provide for teammates, that coming from a modest average of 1.4 key passes per 90 minutes, while 41 successful dribbles ranks fifth in the Bundesliga this season.

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