Manuel Lanzini became West Ham’s eight summer signing when he completed a season-long loan from Al-Jazira in late July.
Lanzini was relatively unknown to most West Ham fans. Nicknamed the ‘Jewel’, he started out at Argentinian side River Plate before moving to the UAE to join Al-Jazira.
YouTube clips were certainly portraying him an impressive attacking midfielder with plenty of pace and flair but then again, a YouTube video can make anyone look special. As part of the deal we have the option to offer Lanzini a permanent contract and I have weighed up whether or not we should go ahead and exercise this option or not.
Manuel Lanzini’s first competitive game came in the away leg against Astra in the Europa League, where we were subsequently eliminated. The 22-year-old stood out that day, scoring our goal and looking like the most likely attacking outlet available. After an initial reluctance to drop Lanzini straight into the Premier League, Bilic gave the Argentinian midfielder the nod for the away fixture to Liverpool.
Three minutes later and Bilic’s faith had been repaid as Lanzini fired the Hammers into an unlikely lead, which eventually resulted in a 3-0 victory at Anfield. The Jewel has since refused to relinquish his place with standout performances, making him impossible to drop. He has scored twice in six games for the Hammers – the second being a crucial winner away at Crystal Palace.
There are question marks over the Argentine’s physicality though. At just 5’6’’ and with a slight frame, he could easily be identified as a vulnerable target by some of the more experienced ‘bully boy’ defenders in the Premier League. If Lanzini is targeted and kicked off the pitch, he might not be as effective as he has been. Many might have considered him too lightweight for the Premier League but can he hack it if he is singled out by defences?
However Lanzini has defied all odds and taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. His blistering pace and elegant agility allows him to dance effortlessly past tackles and complete mazy runs through defences. He is fearless in attack, always looking to take on the defender and beat his man.
He shows great determination in tracking back and completing his defensive duties, as evidenced with his goal-line clearance against Chelsea. He enjoys launching counter-attacks with a range of passing and attacking movement alongside other exciting players such as Dimitri Payet, Mauro Zarate, Victor Moses and Diafra Sakho.
The conclusion; of course we should make his transfer permanent! Certainly questions were raised over Manuel Lanzini as a direct replacement for Stewart Downing.
And no one expected such an unknown quantity to produce such splendid performances so early into his Premier League career. But the truth of the matter is that if we had not signed Dimitri Payet, Lanzini would be heralded with even greater praise than he currently is.
Payet has (rightfully, too) claimed all the plaudits for our incredible start to the season but Lanzini has played a similarly instrumental role in our success and this needs to be recognised. He is adored by the West Ham fans already and it has been a long time since we have seen such an exciting young player sport the famous Claret and Blue.
The owners need to secure a permanent deal for Lanzini as a matter of urgency before we move to the Olympic Stadium next year.