Slaven Bilic: Hammers have to go early or go big to beat top clubs to signings
Slaven Bilic believes West Ham have joined the Premier League elite when it comes to signing players but admits they still need to use all the tricks of the trade to land their targets.
The Hammers open their Premier League campaign on Monday with a testing trip to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and they are likely to come up against Michy Batshuayi - a striker they were keen to recruit over the summer.
The Belgium international ended up signing for the Blues, with West Ham instead breaking their transfer record to bring in Andre Ayew from Swansea.
With a move to their new home at the London Stadium, just a play-off to navigate to reach the Europa League and the prospect of playing alongside the likes of Dimitri Payet, West Ham have become an appealing option for prospective new signings.
And Bilic knows they are now competing with clubs such as Chelsea to sign the players they feel will improve their current squad, although he conceded they have to strike while the iron is hot to beat their richer rivals to the punch.
"I don't want to talk stories now about things that didn't happen now," he said when asked how close West Ham came to signing Batshuayi.
"I said it openly, we tried to get at the beginning one of the top strikers of the moment and they opted for a bigger club and also better money of course, but at the end we bought what we wanted to, I'm happy.
"I said a few weeks ago to the chairman and (chief scout) Tony Henry that if we want to go big game fishing there are two conditions for us to compete with the big clubs - if we go early or if we put more money in.
"Then we might have had a chance, on paper, with those great ones. But we didn't do that. Then it is almost impossible to get the player."
Batshuayi comes to England following a prolific season with Marseille last year, while Ayew has also been backed by Bilic as a "game changer".
But the West Ham boss feels he already had a 20-goal-a-season striker on his books in Andy Carroll, with the England forward facing a major campaign as he looks to put his injury issues behind him.
"It's a massive one," Bilic replied when asked how big a season it will be for Carroll.
"But we said the same last year. He has done the whole of pre-season. OK, we rested him for a couple of games but that was when he needed a rest, it was nothing down to injury.
"When we wanted to sign the kind of striker who is going to score 20 goals per season, last year statistically his goal rate and assist rate and impact rate is 20 goals a season - minimum.
"But the problem was that because of the number of games he was available it was not 20 goals, it was nine. We hope this season he is going to be injury-free."