West Ham have spent a fair amount of cash on wide players in recent years but success has been hard to find…so who ranks at the top of the pile?
Despite investment in the left and right flanks, the Hammers have failed to find the right balance to maintain a consistent midfield, which David Moyes’ instantly realised in January and acted on, signing Jarrod Bowen from Hull City to fix that problem.
Such has been the lack of consistency in wide areas, the likes of Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini – who are notably recognised as central-attacking midfielders – have operated on the left flank in the desperation of finding a recipe for success.
Whether it be injuries or horrific form, West Ham fans have failed to see a regular midfield that is apparent as the side’s ‘best XI’.
With five wide players at the club, we decided to rank them from worst to best:
5. Andriy Yarmolenko
Yarmolenko signed for West Ham during the 2018 summer, moving to east London from Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund for £17.5million. However, significant injuries have halted the Ukrainian’s progress at London Stadium.
The 30-year-old suffered an Achilles tendon rupture just three months into his Hammers career, which kept him on the sidelines for the remainder of the 2018/19 season. Yarmolenko has suffered a similar fate this campaign with injuries, while failing to impress with his performances.
He did show glimpses of the quality he possesses. Yarmolenko is an excellent finisher – netting three goals from his first five Premier League starts this season and making him a Betfair bonus candidate to score anytime – but his lack of pace and overall contribution on the pitch is simply not good enough.
4. Robert Snodgrass
The Scot is a man who splits opinions among the West Ham fanbase. Snodgrass was signed as Dimitri Payet’s replacement back in January 2017, but such expectation was only going to set him up to fail at the start.
The 32-year-old was loaned out to Aston Villa for the 2017/18 campaign, but upon his return to east London, Manuel Pellegrini became a fan and pieced him into his plans for the following season.
Since then, Snodgrass has developed into a popular figure for his attitude and commitment towards the club. His quality from set-pieces is the best in the team, but a lack of contribution from open play prevents him from ranking higher.
3. Michail Antonio
This may be a surprise to see Antonio ranked this low, but let me explain why.
The 30-year-old has proven in the 2019/20 campaign that he offers unprecedented qualities among the side, but those qualities come to the surface when operation as a centre-forward opposed to on the flank.
Antonio’s contributions when playing striker – often in a 4-4-2 with partner Sebastien Haller – is unique. Defenders always have a tough afternoon against the England forward, but cannot rank higher than third when playing out wide.
2. Jarrod Bowen
Bowen may have arrived in January, but the quality he has already demonstrated from the right side of midfield is exciting.
Prior to his move to east London, the 23-year-old was tearing the Championship apart, netting 16 goals and registering three assists in 29 league appearances for Hull this season.
And I have no doubt that he will become one of the club’s top performers over the next couple of years. Bowen inherits all the qualities you want from your wide player – pace, direct and knows exactly where the back of the net is.
1. Felipe Anderson
The Brazilian signed for the Hammers for £36m during the 2018 summer transfer window; the fanbase are seemingly split on what he brings to the side, but I have no doubt that he is our best wide midfielder.
Despite an underwhelming 2019/20 Premier League campaign thus far – scoring once and registering four assists in 22 league appearances – I will continue to support a player deprived of confidence in east London.
Anderson demonstrated on several occasions throughout the 2018/19 season that he is a key player who, on his day, is unplayable. The issue is consistency, which derives from confidence, so once that returns I have no doubt the Hammers faithful will fall in love with the Brazilian again.