By Paul Jones
Swansea City head coach Russell Martin has admitted he is bracing himself for the loss of Joel Piroe after making striker Armstrong Okoflex his sixth summer signing.
Martin has revealed West Ham youngster Okoflex – who scored 18 goals for the Hammers’ Under 23 side last season – is moving to the Swansea.com Stadium on a season-long loan.
It appears to be an early re-fit for his forward line before the transfer deadline closes on Thursday, by which time Martin concedes last season’s top scorer Piroe may well have left the club.
Both Okoflex, 20, and fellow new loan signing, 20-year-old midfielder Luke Cundle from Wolves, are expected to be included in the squad to face Stoke City on Wednesday, but it could be Piroe’s farewell.
The Dutch striker has been a rumoured target for a number of clubs this summer and Martin conceded the former PSV Eindhoven forward’s time with the Swans could be coming to an end.
Piroe has been linked with Leicester City, Brighton, Leeds United and others after scoring 22 goals last season, his first with the Swans.
Irish and West Ham winger Armstrong Okoflex is joining fellow Irishmen Micheal Obafemi + Ryan Manning at Swansea on loan!
Obafemi and Okoflex linking up will be certainly fun to watch A great move for Armstrong
— Irish Football Blog (@BlogIrish) August 28, 2022
Speaking about the looming transfer deadline, Martin said: “I’m sure I’ll get asked about Joel Piroe, but at the minute, he’s here.
“How we’ve played so many games with the transfer window open is ridiculous. I’m sure agents like it.
“But if you really want to do it properly, then the window shuts the day before the season starts. It is what it is. I hope we go home with the same squad or maybe adding to it, which is unlikely at this time.”
Okoflex is a Dublin-born Republic of Ireland U19 international who began his career with Arsenal, moved to Celtic – where he only made two first team appearances – but has shown his potential since moving to West Ham last year.
He was included in manager David Moyes’ squad 13 times last season and made his Hammers debut in the club’s Europa Conference League win over Viborg last week.
Armstrong Okoflex sounds like a Disney superhero arriving to save Earth from being hit by an asteroid.
— Chasing The Dragon (Q) (@chsingthedragon) August 30, 2022
Martin said of Okoflex, “He’s currently doing his medical. He’s someone completely different to anything we’ve got in the building.
“He’s a wide player who really likes to get at people. Fortunately for us, we’ve had people at both clubs who have recognised there might be an opportunity here for young players, because our situation financially hasn’t changed.
“We’re really lucky that, because of our style of play, the opportunities young players get here are probably more than most places, so we’re really fortunate that people at both clubs [Wolves and West Ham] recognise this is a good place for both young players to play.”
Cundle, who is set to make his debut with Okoflex at Stoke on Wednesday night, is another that Martin believes will strengthen Swansea’s resources after a poor start to the season in which they have only won once in six matches.
“Luke is one we‘ve watched for a while,” said Martin.
“Speaking to a couple of people we know at Wolves, they all speak really highly of him.
Swansea City has completed the signing of midfielder Luke Cundle on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, subject to international clearance.
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) August 29, 2022
“He had a great record in the under-23s last season and made his debut for Wolves in the Premier League. He’s an excellent footballer.
“It’ll be his first experience of playing week-in week-out in the Championship so that’s never easy. I think he’ll bring us some creativity and confidence on the pitch. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring.
“It’ll be up to him to try to make his mark and get into the team as quickly as he can. He’s another young player so we won’t expect too much too soon but he gives us flexibility as well.”