It’s hard to believe I’m even saying this, but West Ham United winger Andriy Yarmolenko is likely facing a critical few weeks in his bid save his stalling Hammers career.
The Ukrainian, on a reported £115,000-per-week [Source: Spotrac], suffered a hugely unfortunate injury that ended his debut season in English football prematurely, and suddenly you feel that this pre season is a massive one for the 29-year-old.
The arrival of playmaker Pablo Fornals earlier this summer increased the competition in the attacking midfield positions at the London Stadium, while Manuel Lanzini’s return to fitness towards the back end of last season put even more pressure on Yarmolenko.
Claret & Hugh reported on Friday that the former Borussia Dortmund man will be back on the training pitch for pre season next week, while the same outlet claimed earlier this month that manager Manuel Pellegrini will examine the player over the first half of the campaign before deciding on his future in January.
However, that all starts next week, and so it’s imperative that the winger gets off to a good start and quickly reminds the Chilean just how devastating he can be.
Certainly, though, he’s going to have to do a bit more than he produced in his first nine Premier League games last term. As per WhoScored, the only major offensive statistical category in which he led fellow attacking midfielders Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio last time out was being dispossessed the least per game and having the fewest unsuccessful touches per game.
He was behind the trio in key passes per game and dribbles per game, two big areas of the game for an attack-minded midfielder.
So this is a key few weeks for the veteran playmaker, and he needs to up his game significantly. Otherwise, it could be a long season in east London for him.