West Ham United playmaker Manuel Lanzini has been out for some time since he suffered a major injury just before this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
The 25-year-old worked his way into Jorge Sampaoli’s squad but was denied a place at the showpiece event due to a knee injury.
He has been working hard on his rehabilitation ever since, but the emergence of a number of West Ham stars this season has rendered his return something of an afterthought.
The Argentine, on a reported £70,000-per-week at the London Stadium [Source: Spotrac], is undoubtedly one of the most talented players at the club and his return has been massively anticipated by supporters, but he may find it more difficult than anticipated to break back into the Hammers team.
Felipe Anderson’s two goal salvo against Burnley on Saturday saw the Brazilian rediscover his early season form and demonstrate why the club signed him from Lazio in the first place this summer.
Anderson is a wonderfully technical player who plays a similar role to Lanzini. Because he cost so much money it’s likely that he will be preferred to Lanzini in Manuel Pellegrini’s mind moving forward.
Grady Diangana, on the other side of the pitch, has emerged as one of the most exciting youngsters in the Premier League and won’t want to sacrifice his first team minutes. He has been a revealtion at West Ham.
Robert Snodgrass, too, has found his best form of late and is surely one of the manager’s first names on the team sheet at this point.
With Marko Arnautovic flourishing up front, and Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez to bring into the fold as well, the competition for places is suddenly set to be fierce at the London Stadium.
That is the environment that Lanzini will be returning to once he gets back to full fitness, and it won’t be easy for him to break back into this improving West Ham team.