When West Ham announced the season-long loan signing of Manuel Lanzini from Al Jazira Club in the United Arab Emirates, doubts were raised with the fans especially with the clubs recent record in unknown foreign contingents (Modibo Maiga please stand up).
The 22-year-old Argentine has bucked that trend putting in a series of impressive performances of late that have propelled West Ham to third in the Barclays Premier League. The signing of Lanzini went largely under the radar given the influx of players arriving at the Boleyn Ground to join the new regime under Slavin Bilic, a total of £32.83M spent on arrivals that included the marquee signings of Dimitri Payet from Marseille and Angelo Ogbonna from Juventus meant Lanzini’s inclusion to the squad went rather unnoticed.
The diminutive Argentine begin his career at River Plate and spent the 2011/12 season on loan at Brazilan side Fluminense before a permanent move to Al Jazira Club in 2014. When Lanzini made the move to the UAE he became the youngest foreign player at the age of 21 to play in the UAE Arabian Gulf League and went on to score 8 goals in 24 games.
Dimitri Payet has taken the plaudits thus far for a West Ham side full of confidence and rightly so, however, the impact of Manuel Lanzini alongside Payet in the midfield has been understated to say the least. His performance in the 2-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday highlighted the attributes he has bought to this West Ham side showing pace and creativity and was a constant menace along with Payet and Mauro Zarate and led to his standing ovation from the Hammers faithful when he was replaced after 82 minutes.
Lanzini’s recent performances have led to his manager Slaven Bilic to say “I have never seen a player who reminds me of Luka Modric as much as Manuel Lanzini” adding “he is making our other players better”. Whilst the praise is deserved Bilic admitted he didn’t expect Lanzini to be this good straight away and appears to have unearthed a gem.
Following two goals and one assist in the Premier League, WhoScored.com have given Lanzini an impressive rating of 7.4 whilst he registers just over 2 shots per game (2.12) and 2.5 dribbles per game. His presence in the midfield goes beyond dribbling and shooting and makes on average 1.5 tackles per game. Lanzini has featured in a variety of positions over the pitch in his short career with West Ham to date but it was his performance as the central attacking midfielder during the 3-1 victory away to Crystal Palace that gave him a man of the match 9.4 WhoScored.com rating with one goal and one assist.
West Ham have the option to turn the loan deal into a permanent one at the end of the season and continued performances like the ones Lanzini has shown so far should act as a timely reminder that the West Ham hierarchy need to act sooner rather than later to secure the immediate future of Manuel Lanzini.