Keeping Snodgrass Makes Sense for West Ham

Bought in the January 2017 trasnfer window to lessen the blow of Dimitri Payet up and leaving West Ham, Robert Snodgrass had a brutal second half with West Ham. The team sputtered without their star player and Snodgrass being played out of position didn’t help. From unfair criticism on his play, to being slagged off by West Ham’s board members, Snodgrass has had a tumultuous time at West Ham.

Following a truly superb season on loan at Aston Villa for Snodgrass, Manuel Pellegrini has apparently been very impressed with the Scotsman’s work ethic and performances in the Hammers’ preseason so far. So, should West Ham keep the attacking midfielder?

As it stands now, not only is Snodgrass a solid locker room figure for his teammates, he has also found his form again from his Hull days. These are both two massive points that should turn Pellegrini into a Snodgrass supporter. As well, the formation Pellegrini plays seems to fit Snodgrass’ abilities and play style perfectly, built on attacking midfielders who have creative license on the pitch.

This organizational fit that is on the horizon under Pellegrini is a stark contrast from Bilic’s days at the helm when he bought Snodgrass and forced him to play left wing. Snodgrass, a noted right sided or central attacker willingly tentatively agreed to play on the left but was certainly not a one-for-one replacement for Payet.

No, Pellegrini won’t force his players to play out of position, but rather will tailor the formation to better suit them – for Snodgrass this means roaming attacking midfield positions that allow for creativity from the centre of the pitch. It is well documented that Pellegrini likes formations with two strikers and 2-3 attacking midfielders in support behind them. Snodgrass has shown so far in preseason that he can play this AM role and back up the strikers.

Outside of a brief and ongoing preseason Snodgrass proved at Villa last season that he still has the ability to perform. In Birmingham Mail‘s Aston Villa season player rankings Snodgrass got an 8/10 for his massive contribution in Villa’s promotion playoff final loss season. Dubbed the assist king, Snodgrass registered 14 assists, good enough for tied-first ranking in the Championship. He also added 8 goals, proving he still has that offensive touch Bilic and West Ham believed he did when they bought him.

At worst Snodgrass pushes the squads pace in training and provides depth for Pellegrini’s attacking midfield focused formations. He is controllable, and offers probably more value as a squad player than he would return dollar-wise in a transfer out. I say keep him, give the Scotsman a chance to prove himself at the highest level of English football again.

…oh and my feelings on Snodgrass have NOTHING to do with the fact that I bought his jersey when he signed with West Ham. I swear.

West Ham’s New Back Line With Balbeuna

West Ham announced the signing of Corinthians centre back and captain Fabian Balbuena from Brazil’s top flight of football. The fee is rumored to be between £2.5-5 million. Balbuena will be West Ham’s sixth signing of the window and joins Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks in West Ham’s new back line of defenders.

While a lot is unknown about Balbuena’s game due to him playing in Brazil, the scouting reports on him suggest West Ham could be getting a bargain. He is known for his aerial skills by winning balls and clearing his lines with timely headers but he also has some offensive prowess, too. In the 2016/17 season Balbuena scored 6 goals, most coming from set piece play in the opponents area and most coming off of his head.

He seems to read the play well and knows when to clear his lines, when to look for a long pass, when to step in on a tackle, and when to rush up into the play. His tackling is a specific area of his game that West Ham fans should be excited about. He isn’t afraid to step up on attackers and stick a well placed foot into their feet to legally win the ball, rather than constantly be backed down.

It sounds as if Balbuena (26) could effectively be the heir apparent to current centre back Angelo Ogbonna. Both are strong tacklers and both excel at aerial duels. While it is unlikely he walks into the starting line up this season, Balbuena should see first team action in the Cup teams Pellegrini puts out.

With Balbuena now signed West Ham have new recruit Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Winston Reid, Reece Oxford, and possibly (if he isn’t a midfielder by seasons start) Declan Rice lining up to be centre backs. Oxford has expressed his desire to leave the club, and unless there is a massive boost in his play and attitude he should be off. As well West Ham could look to cash in on Winston Reid while he still has some solid value (£10-15m?), stripping another CB option away.

That would leave Balbuena, Diop, and Ogbonna as true centre backs with both Rice and (should he be here) Cheikhou Kouyate as depth options at centre back. Ideally a youngster should slot in for some valuable bench and Cup time, but if there is no easy choice for that role look for Mario Husillos to recruit another young player to add to the CB depth chart.

Younger and quicker – two words to describe West Ham’s defense this season. Young(er) comes from Diop and Balbuena, and quick comes from probable starting fullbacks Arthur Masuaku and Ryan Fredericks. With football becoming more and more focused on skill and speed over physicality and grit Pellegrini is adapting his squad to this evolving style of play rapidly.

Welcome Balbuena!

*Amendment – With Reid’s injury (knee, 3 months) West Ham are essentially hamstrung with a potential deal. Look for Pellegrini and Husillos to look for a solid bench option to replace him, or to hold onto Reece Oxford now as a potential depth centreback.

Handle With Care – Javier Hernandez

West Ham fans had been crying out for a legitimate, proven, world class striker for years and in the summer transfer window of 2017 it appeared they had gotten their man. The connections then manager Slaven Bilic had laid years prior paid off as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez signed with Bilic and West Ham…queue the songs:

But after a poor start to the season by the team, Chicharito and West Ham were sputtering. Soon Bilic would be sacked and then the unthinkable happened. The man who clashed with Chicharito at Manchester United was appointed West Ham manager – Welcome David Moyes. By all accounts time had healed the rift between the player and manager, but Moyes team selection didn’t reflect this “fact”.

While he was injured and missed four games after Moyes took control of West Ham on November 7th, Chicharito was fit again for the Hammers December 9th match against Chelsea. He wouldn’t see a full 90 minutes until January 30th, and would only play five matches as a starter under his arch nemesis. Hernandez ended the season with a knee injury missing two of the last three matches and watched the season finale from the bench. He was pissed and it was obvious; it looked like he’d be off.

But not so fast twitter doom merchants! West Ham announced the impressive appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as the successor to David Moyes. The Engineer as he is known, has gone to work engineering a revamped squad with over five top signings since joining and more on the horizon. The best part for Chicharito? None of them are strikers and a few are solid passers and crossers – a strikers dream!

Reports are still swirling that Hernandez is unsettled and unsure of his future at West Ham and this is where the warning to “Handle With Care” comes from. He is world class, he is the definition of fox in the box, and he should lead the line alongside Arnautovic for West Ham this season. But let’s let him ease back into things, okay?

He has an extended holiday as I type this, after being eliminated in a fantastic World Cup run for Mexico that ended in heart break in the round of 16 against Brazil. Let him rest, recharge, and clear his mind, then introduce him to Pellegrini and his new teammates. The man seems to know how to organize a team and knows how to man manage well. He apparently was a massive reason why Jack Wilshere took a pay cut to join West Ham, and surely wants Chicharito to be a key member of his team.

Pellegrini stated that it will be a process of a few years to get West Ham to the levels he believes the team should be at. West Ham need to build on players like Chicharito now so they can be consistently successful for years to come.

Come to Switzerland, Chicharito. Meet the mastermind Pellegrini.

What Are West Ham Getting In Andriy Yarmolenko?

With keeper, defence, and midfielder added West Ham add another player with attacker Andriy Yarmolenko from Borussia Dortmund of the Bundesliga on a four year deal. The right winger from Ukraine is 28 years old and will likely slot in behind/beside Chicharito and Arnautovic to round out the attack. At a rumoured £22m fee the signing fits West Ham’s needs and doesn’t break the bank which is not hamstringing the team in further moves. So, what are West Ham getting in their new attacker?Yarmolenko provides a big body presence out wide that combines physicality and footwork into his teams attack. Built similarly to Marko Arnautovic, Yarmolenko has a 6’2″ frame but also solid pace that makes him difficult to knock off the ball when he breaks up the wing. His technical skills also allow him to get away from or passed defenders, backing them down with step overs or making a slick one touch pass to break passed his marker.When it comes to offence, Yarmolenko scored 10 goals and tallied 9 assists last season in 36 games (all competitions). His ability to pass the ball should have the West Ham strikers excited. This is because Yarmolenko has a good shot and can threaten the goal from outside the box. So, a curled cross or short driven pass can catch the keeper off guard when they expect him to take an outside the box shot. This versatility in attack should be enough to keep him on the score sheet at West Ham.How will West Ham line up with him in the first team? With rumours that the Hammers are still trying to sign £40m rated right winger Filipe Anderson West Ham could move Yarmolenko to the left wing or even the centre of the pitch as he has experience at both left wing and centre forward. Anderson offers more pace down the wing, but both are elite passers so having them wrapped around the outside of the pitch would ensure solid service into the box.Another move of intent as Manuel Pellegrini continues to bring in his European scouted players to his first team. West Ham will look a lot more threatening with Yarmolenko on the attack and he already knows how to score worldies against Spurs. Great signing and on to the next one!

He’s Coming Home – West Ham Sign Jack Wilshere

West Ham have signed English born, childhood West Ham supporter Jack Wilshere on a free transfer. Wilshere will be reportedly making £100,000 per week and will join on a three year deal, walking away from Arsenal.

For West Ham, Wilshere has taken a significant pay cut after rejecting a rumoured £130,000/week deal to stay at Arsenal, and a massive move to Turkish League giants Fenerbahce to come to his boyhood team. In the summer of the “Football is coming home” movement surrounding Englands terrific World Cup run, Jack Wilshere jumps aboard and comes home to his own club.

Lets get it out of the way early here – Wilshere has had some injury problems in the passed. Since 2015 Wilshere has missed 496 days to injury, including a substantial time for a fracture in his shin, and malleolar injuries in his ankle. What is positive – and knock on wood here – is that over the last two seasons Wilshere has played 30 games each, which is an accomplishment coming off of that long track record of injuries.

He has had a storied rise to prominence in English football as a highly rated Arsenal prospect. He developed through the Gunners’ youth teams and was sent on loan to Bolton for a half season as well. After substantial time at Arsenal from 2010-2016, and after struggling with injury Wilshere was off to Bournemouth on a season long loan for the 2016/17 season. Wilshere managed 29 games that season with two assists to his name but eventually his season was ended early with the calf fracture injury.

Upon returning to Arsenal for the 2017/18 season Wilshere was back in the main squad on the bench on September 25th following a conditioning stint with the U-23 Arsenal team. Wilshere’s time in the minors culminated with a 2-match red card ban after pushing a Manchester City player to the ground following a brutally late and dangerous tackle on him. Wilshere went on to exchange blows with another City player.

Wilshere wouldn’t see a start and full 90 minutes with the first team until December 13th, against West Ham. The teams drew 0-0 after a highly praised defensive masterclass from David Moyes’ West Ham side. Wilshere played in 40 games last season which is a massive boost to his injury laded form before 2017.

For West Ham Wilshere walks into the first team as a starter. At just 26 years old he is an English born player in the prime of his career that would have cost the team massively if they were buying the transfer. He is a true central midfielder who likes to jump in the attack, but can also perform as a holding midfielder providing Manuel Pellegrini a versatile option in the middle of the pitch. Possibly a replacement for Lanzini and eventual partner in the midfield, Wilshere is a massive signing for West Ham and is again helping the Hammers reform their squad for a highly anticipated 2018/19 season.

Welcome Home, Jack.


Winterthur 3 – 2 West Ham – 200takes

West Ham fall in their first preseason match of the season, but don’t cancel the season just yet! West Ham have but six days of training under new manager Pellegrini, and have a mix of old, new, and prospect players in their two teams for this match. While there were some glaring errors – Carroll missed pen, Ogbonna howlers on third goal – there were also some solid performances by youngsters.

Nathan Holland – 8/10 Holland looked lively on the ball and ready to bounce back after an injury filled 2017/18. He promises to be a good, creative player off the right wing and showed that today, linking up with Carroll and Fernandes in the box.

Edimilson Fernandes – 7/10 Looked good early and was a name you heard frequently. He showed his speed and ability to cut through the oppositions midfield with ease. Missing some composure and finishing.

Marcus Browne – 6.5/10 Browne looked like he wanted to be out on the pitch early but did lose interest. He had some solid link up plays with Noble and Fredericks on the right side of the pitch, and can turn on the burners in a flash.

Overall, not good enough defensively and easily broken down. On to the next one, Hammers!

Wayward Payet Wants West Ham Reunion

“We have a problem with a player… It’s Dimitri Payet. He wants to leave the club.”

These are words that haunt West Ham fans today. It was January of 2016, and star attacker Dimitri Payet demanded a move back to his previous club Marseille of Ligue 1 in France. The move not only upset West Ham fans, it betrayed them. Their star player who had brought so much magic to the final season at Upton Park saw his team struggling at the Olympic Stadium and that, compacted with personal issues, saw him force a move away from West Ham with a play strike.

“We’ve got Payet” quickly turned to “Fuck off Payet” at West Ham matches. His car was vandalized, and his name became a synonym for snake. Across social media West Ham supporters would comment “snake” or add emojis to any post that had him in it, or comment his name if the content mentioned a snake – me included. I was heartbroken – WE we’re heartbroken. Payet was that signature player; he led the Hammers offensively and helped make the team more entertaining to watch. It was a catastrophic loss.

West Ham have struggled since his departure, finishing bottom half of the table and being in some serious relegation battles twice in the last two seasons. Lanzini has had to step up as the next midfield maestro and playmaker and has done a solid job, garnering rumoured interest from clubs like Liverpool and Barcelona while earning international call ups. However, the talent Payet possesses is generational, and while Lanzini is (despite injury) on the track to rival that talent, Payet could and would walk onto West Ham as it stands now.

However, the West Ham Payet left is not the current team. Most notably West Ham made a massive splash attracting top manager Manuel Pellegrini to lead the team forward. He is experienced in the Premier League and globally, and is a name that hold a lot more weight than any one player on the team. It wouldn’t be Payet’s team the Frenchman would be coming back to, he would just be filling a need for his manager in Lanzini’s injury absence.

My opinion on the matter is outlined here. These are the stipulations I would have met in order to bring back Dimitri Payet:

  • I WOULD take him back
  • I would not pay a cent more than the £30 million he was sold for
  • His wages would match his previous wages, and be heavily made up of appearance bonuses (50/50?)
  • He would need to apologize to the fans of the club for abandoning them the way he did
  • He would need to tell and explain the situation that made him force his move away
  • I would need to see Pellegrini stating he wants the player
  • I would need to see Mark Noble back the signing

Lastly, and it deserves more than one point in a arbitrary fan made list of demands, is an apology for then West Ham manager Slaven Bilic. Bilic was his manager at West Ham and helped give the fans and the Boleyn the send off that historic ground deserved. He has had his credibility as a manager slashed since Payet left, and with that departure from West Ham came the inevitable sacking of Bilic as club manager. Payet didn’t think about the wake left behind when he abandoned West Ham, and Bilic’s career has become a symptom of that.

There is some criticism from West Ham supporters surrounding the player and his return. Firstly his age. Payet would return to West Ham 31 years old, and for some this is a non-starter. A quick reminder would be that Paulo Di Canio joined West Ham at age 30 and played for five years at the club with great success. 30 is easy to circle as a ‘best before’ age, but that simply isn’t the case for everyone.

Secondly there is concern that Payet is injury ridden, specifically after his inability to play much of the Europa League final due to injury. To that I say Payet played 47 games last season across all competitions for Marseille. Is there concern for injury, sure. But, no more than there is with any other player.

Lastly is the concern that “he’s fallen off” and “isn’t what he used to be”. Its understandable that West Ham fans are protective of their passed time with Payet, but he scored 10 goals and added 24 assists last season for Marseille. For perspective that puts him second only to Arnautovic for goals (11) and puts him first by in inconceivable 17 assists over Aaron Cresswell who had 7.

So would I have him back? In a heartbeat. The transition wouldn’t be easy, and West Ham would likely take a lot of heat from their own supporters and Premier League fans from other teams. But the second he dips a free kick over the wall into the top corner, or rabona crosses a goal to Arnautovic and throws up the hammers memories will be cleared.

So, West Ham fans, are we ready to bring him back?

Two Linked Targets West Ham Should Buy

The West Ham squad is currently in transition as new manager Manuel Pellegrini and his director of football Mario Husillos have assumed their positions, and look to improve the quality of players at their disposal. A few names have been linked, but a midfielder from FC Porto, and a defender from Bayer Leverkusen with Premier League experience may fit West Ham’s needs in more than one way. One thing that links these two targets is that that are good friends with our likely strikers next season

Herrera from FC Porto

Currently on international duty for Mexico, Hector Herrera patrols Porto’s midfield in Liga NOS. Herrera is reportedly great friends with West Ham striker Javier Hernandez, and could help solidify his stay in East London. Reports emerged that Hernandez was unhappy after being relegated to a bench position last season under David Moyes. It was also believed that Hernandez was looking for a move to MLS to be closer to his home in Mexico in the January transfer window.

The addition of Herrera would not only help settle Hernandez under new manager Pellegrini, but would also allow for more and better options in the midfield. Herrera, who played in 42 games in all competitions last season, scored 5 goals and added 7 assists. These totals eclipse the duo of Cheikhou Kouyate and Pedro Obiang for combined scoring last season.

Herrera hasn’t quite reached his lofty scouting potential in 2014. He was originally ranked 7/10 across the board on skills, and given a 10/10 for potential when scouted at age 22. Now 28 Herrera has settled into an advanced midfielder role. He can play central midfield well but also likes to jump into the attack and contribute offensively, too. For Herrera to fit in it would likely be the likes of Joao Mario not getting a new loan/permanent deal to East London. It would be about £10 million in savings for West Ham and could prove to be good business if Pellegrini believes a club youngster could potentially be filling that void soon…cough cough Marcus Browne.

Aleksandar Dragovic from Bayer Leverkusen

A defender most West Ham fans should be familiar with, Austrian international and Leicester City loanee Aleksandar Dragovic is good friends with Marco Arnautovic. The 27 year old defender played in 18 games in all competitions last season without registering a point (not the end of the world for a defender).

His greatest attribute, according to his scouring report, is his size matched with his ability to read play. Dragovic comfortably adjusts his defensive coverage and man marking, especially on dead ball plays making him an ideal late game defensive substitution. He is also very strong on aerial balls, noted for winning duels in the air and using his heading abilities to out let the ball.

With links to Manchester United and back to Inter Milan, it is crucial for West Ham to settle Arnautovic, their truculent front man, and have him commit to the team for the foreseeable future. The addition of this depth defender would likely see the end of Winston Reid at West Ham who one the whole is probably a better defender than Dragovic, but near constant injury problems have caused his value to drop in recent years.

Overall, I don’t love the idea of letting players dictate who is brought into the club but I can make an exception when the moves would be mutually beneficial. Dragovic and Herrera would make West Ham better, and both are not on onerous contracts (Herrera one more year, Dragovic three). If making these two smaller moves allows for West Ham to know their striker duo will be settled at the club they would be two moves of solid business for the club.

Lanzini’s Heir Apparent and Stop Gap Homegrown?

Devastating to himself, to his country, and to his team – Lanzini’s knee injury is nothing short of a football travesty. Reports are now stating the injury could last up to 15 months which would keep the Argentine out of West Ham’s team for the entire 2018/19 season. For Lanzini this has to be terrible. Other than missing a year in his prime, Lanzini was set to fit into new West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini’s attacking style of football with the hopes of him fully developing into the world beating talent many West Ham fans believe he is. And while Lanzini will have to wait for this opportunity, West Ham simply cannot. So, the question now becomes who can replace Lanzini – the answer? It may be a homegrown talent.

What does homegrown mean? Some would suggest that Jack Wilshere would fit the bill for a homegrown West Ham talent. He was brought up a West Ham supporter, and despite years at Arsenal he has always remained a fan of the East London club. The skills are there for the 26 year old English player, as he began his career extremely young. The biggest hurdle for him is injury. He returned to seasonal play last season and ended up playing in 40 games, which for him is a tremendous step in the right direction when it comes to separating himself from the tag as injury prone.

He also fits a certain aspect of the club the the board of owners have set in place – he is young, and English. Pellegrini seems to care less about the latter, so Wilshere seems unlikely at this point for a possible replacement for West Ham. I believe he has the talent and skills, but the unknown for a player who has had so much missed time for injuries could scare West Ham away from a move.

Homegrown… would this include Joao Mario? Technically no as the FA has a distinct rule about about qualifies as “homegrown” talent, but Mario did begin his Premier League life at West Ham. Mario completed a loan spell from January to the end of the season at West Ham last season. The attacking midfielder is currently playing in the World Cup and featuring as a starter for Portugal. The beginning of his West Ham career was a bit shaky; adjusting to the Premier League is often a tough task when coming from Serie A or other European leagues, however he finished strong and has cut his Premier League teeth at West Ham. He scored twice for the Hammers, both critical goals in their quest to stay alive in the Premier League, and added an assist as well.

Mario is young, but lacks a lot of pace. As a potential 10 on the pitch in a potential 4-2-3-1 formation this is not the end of the world, as he would be more responsible for holding up play and distributing the ball, rather than burning down the side of the pitch like a winger. Mario was rumoured to be looking for a permanent move to West Ham after his loan from Inter Milan ended, and both clubs are keen on the move. With the price tag still high a loan-to-buy option could be what we see. It is likely that he will be a Hammer again come August.

If Mario is in, who else could step up into that role to challenge for the starting squad? Andre Ayew was an option last season but has been sold off. Noble, Kouyate, and Obiang, the three midfielders on West Ham offer more defensively than they do attacking so they wouldn’t be the best fits. It may be time to promote a player who earned more than just a look after last season in the reserve league Premier League 2.

Welcome Marcus Browne to the stage, everyone. The 20 year old attacking midfielder who currently resides in West Hams reserve squad had a smashing end to his season after returning from a knee injury himself. Originally sent out on loan to Wigan in 2017, Browne suffered an injury that saw that move end and he returned to West Ham to treat the injury. In his return to play in January of 2018 Browne played in 10 Premier League 2 games, captaining the impressive young squad in 7 of those games.

With 6 goals and 2 assists in that time frame Browne was attracting some due attention to his game. On the pitch he is a clear leader who leads from the front. Always pushing to take the ball and carry it forward, he is a forwards best friend in link up play, and likes to have a go at goal on his own quite often. He capped off his awesome return to play with a 4 goal performance against Everton’s PL2 team, emphatically stamping a world class free kick goal on his performance to cap it off. Hmm, almost Lanzini-esque.

Pellegrini has stated that he wants to look at the infamous Academy of Football that West Ham has at its disposal and try to promote the natural talent that it possesses to the first team squad. For Browne this should be taken as an invitation. He will undoubtedly get some playing time in the pre-season squad which will be his opportunity to impress the new manager. Browne has the speed but mixes in a more physicality in his style of play, bashing through tackles to keep the ball alive and moving forward. Hopefully he can help West Ham save some money on an attacking midfielder and push his way onto the first team squad.


Don’t Give Up On Kouyate Just Yet

Cheikhou Kouyate is a polarizing figure at West Ham United. From his performance in 2017/18 many supporters are suggesting he needs to be sold, and others hark back to his seasons at the Boleyn and know he has more to offer. If we examine the best and worst of each season when judging the midfielder what are we left with? What can we truly expect from Kouyate, and will he be a factor in new manager Manuel Pellegrini’s updated version of West Ham?

Well when originally signing with West Ham for £7m, Kouyate was described as a defensive midfielder who can be played as a centre back as well. His height was his biggest noticeable attribute as he comes in at 6’4″, and was even likened to Arsenal legend Patrick Viera. Then manager Sam Allardyce wanted a solid and tall defensive player who could help outlet the ball and bring physicality to the home end of the pitch.

His stats proved that under Allardyce he developed more into a box-to-box midfielder, as he managed 4 goals and 3 assists in 2014/15, even though he spent time 4 games as a centre back. In 2015/16 it was Slaven Bilic managing the team and it was more of the same for the Swiss Army Knife type player, with 5 goals and 3 assists in 34 Premier League games mostly as a central midfielder. Kouyate had a terrific final season at the Boleyn Ground, being a dominant midfielder and using his size.

With the move to the London Stadium came a surprising and drastic drop in form for the Senegalese midfielder. In two seasons at the new stadium Kouyate has only managed 3 goals and 3 assists, and while he isn’t an offensive minded player he certainly was less of a presence in the opponents end. What is important to realize is that Kouyate’s form dipped alongside the teams form. They left their ancestral home, they lost their most electric player (Dimitri Payet) since Paulo Di Canio in a shock move, and they threw all the progress they made in their last season at Upton Park away.

With last season being a disaster from the outset it is hard to judge any player based off their play – except Kouyate. He was extremely poor, as effort seemed to be his biggest lacking aspect in his game. Payet – gone, European football – gone, Upton Park – gone. A lot of what made West Ham unique and exciting in recent seasons was lost, and with it Kouyate’s effort seemed to depart as well. He didn’t track back, he didn’t go up for aerial duels like he can, and he seemed disinterested on the pitch.

When David Moyes arrived at West Ham following Bilic’s sacking last season he promised to make playing time a stipulation to hard training. Many had Kouyate in mind with this Moyes caveat, either he’ll try like he did before or be dropped for lack of effort.

Unfortunately this was not the case as midfielder option Pedro Obiang dropped with injury, and Andre Ayew (someone who can play the midfield) was sold. The team was crying out for another 1-2 midfield options in the January transfer window, but the reinforcements never came. Kouyate was safe from Moyes conditioning simply for lack of replacement options.

He is a well liked player by his teammates, is constantly positive and dancing on social media, and was selected to Senegal’s 2018 World Cup squad as their captain. The intangibles are there, he just needs the pressure on him in order to perform. He is a player that requires a constant fire under their ass for motivation.

And this is why there may be more left for Kouyate at West Ham. New manager Manuel Pellegrini has yet to get his hands on the frustratingly talented midfielder, but the thought of the two combining is exciting.

I believe Pellegrini could want to keep him rather than sell him simply for his ability to play in three of the four zones of his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation. Centre back, check. Defensive midfielder, check. Attacking midfielder, check. Cheik checks more Pellegrini boxes than anyone else and it could prove valuable to the new manager to have a renaissance man in the team.

I was a hard critic on Kouyate this season and was desperate to see him off by season end. Now that the dust has settled and i’ve revisited his entire catalogue of West Ham stats I can see there is more than just Last Season’s Kouyate in that player. I hope Pellegrini sees it too.