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Could Lanzini be the next Payet for West Ham?

Tuesday 21st March 2017
After Dimitri Payet transferred back to Marseille in January, everyone associated with West Ham felt betrayed and wondered who would become the new star man at the club. It may be early days but Manuel Lanzini is showing real signs that he could be the one to fill the Frenchman's boots.

On Saturday, West Ham lost at home to Leicester City and the Argentine's fantastic performance was perhaps the only positive for the Hammers. No goalkeeper in the world would have saved his free-kick and Kasper Schmeichel could only watch as Lanzini curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner.
He also had a hand in the second goal. From a West Ham corner, Lanzini delivered a pin-point cross to Andy Carroll and when the ball was headed back across, Andre Ayew flicked the ball past Schmeichel. In the latter moments of the game, both Carroll and Ayew squandered golden chances and perhaps if they had fallen to Lanzini, West Ham would have drawn or won the game.

West Ham clearly misses Payet because he was always capable of doing something special, whether it be a defence-splitting pass to a teammate or an incredible solo goal. During his time in the Premier League, Lanzini has shown glimpses of how he can create something out of nothing and become the player that can be counted on to produce some magic.

To get the best out of Lanzini, I feel he needs to play in a central attacking role and as West Ham have a lack of other options in that area, it appears likely that he will continue in this position. Slaven Bilić must also grant the Argentine a lot of freedom to roam since he is a clever player who has the ability to find space in and around the opposition's area.

One rather significant weakness is his physicality. At just 5ft 6, Lanzini is one of the shortest players in the Premier League and he can be bullied off the ball quite easily. It is unlikely that he will outmuscle his opponents, therefore, he must use his pace and sharpness to weave around them. A lot of his movement and skill is unpredictable and this is what makes him an effective flair player.

Obviously, things have not gone well for West Ham this season. The move to the London Stadium combined with the Dimitri Payet saga has left the Hammers 12th and with no cups to fight for and nothing to push for in the league. The chances are that West Ham's season will fizzle out. Bilić must try and stop this from happening and should use this time wisely to address their problems so they are ready to bounce back next season.

The void left by Payet could certainly be filled by Lanzini. In my opinion, he is the best player in West Ham's squad and could help the club push towards European football once again. Picking up from where the Frenchman left off is a herculean task for Lanzini but he has shown real potential and must take his opportunity to become the main man for the Hammers.
Robert Wiltshire
I am a Creative Writing MA graduate with a love for playing, watching and writing about football.

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