By James Murray

14th Sep, 2023 | 6:51am

Riko Ueki World Cup form suggests new signing could take West Ham Women forward this season

Riko Ueki could help take West Ham Women forward after it was announced she has joined the club.

The Hammers confirmed the signing of the 24-year-old forward on Tuesday (12 September), with a move from Japanese side Tokyo Verdy Beleza being subject to a work permit being granted.

The Japanese international recently performed well for her country at the World Cup and the Irons will be hoping she can take that form into the WSL with her.

Ueki broke into the Beleza senior team in June 2016, marking her debut with a goal in a League Cup match against Speranza Osaka.

Since then, she has been a regular for the side, making over 130 appearances and helping them to successive league titles between 2016 and 2019.

The forward held an impressive record in the WE League – Japan’s professional women’s league – as she scored 20 goals in 38 games over the past two seasons.

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She has also amassed 25 caps on the international stage, with her breakout year coming in 2022 when she found the back of the net eight times in 11 appearances.

The striker featured in every match for her country at this summer’s 2023 Women’s World Cup finals, scoring against Zambia and grabbing a goal and an assist in their 4-0 win over eventual winners Spain in the group stage.

Despite only starting on one occasion in the tournament and averaging 36 minutes per game, she had 2.4 shots a match, with 1.4 of those efforts being on target [SofaScore].

She averaged 0.4 goals and missed four big chances to prove that, while she may have been wasteful at times, she was getting into the right areas for a conversion rate of 17 per cent.

The Japanese was also fouled twice a game as she earned two penalties for her side before they were knocked out by Sweden in the quarter-finals.

She had 26 touches and made 1.2 key passes, with her pass success rate sitting at 72 per cent and improving up to 77 per cent in the opposition’s half.

Ueki was successful with 63 per cent of her dribbles and won 62 per cent of the duels she was involved in as she claimed possession back for her side on 0.6 occasions and made 1.2 tackles per game.

After the Hammers scored just 23 goals in their 22 WSL matches last season, the forward may be able to add something different to the side this season.

She will be hoping to build upon her impressive performances in the Japanese league and for the national team as she looks to help the club improve on their disappointing eighth-place finish in the last campaign.

In other West Ham news, an eye-catching stat has proved one star is striving despite facing off-field adversity.