The Argentine spent large parts of the last campaign sidelined through injury, but now that he is fully fit, Inkersole is expecting him to perform.
Asked to name his prediction for the Hammers’ surprise package of the coming campaign during a Q&A (15.50), he said: “Surprise player of the season…maybe not much of a surprise to be honest but I think Manuel Lanzini is in for a good season.
“He’s back to full fitness after his serious knee injury, started pre-season well (had a bit of an iffy game against City last week) but I think he will be up there.
“He’s got a fair bit to prove in a contract year, too.”
To be fair to Inkersole, this is a very fair shout. He may not see Lanzini as a surprise package, but given the wealth of attacking talent the Hammers now boast, there is the real possibility that the Argentine could slip under the radar a little. Certainly, last season on the sidelines allowed the likes of Felipe Anderson to raise their profile in his absence, and there has been a lot of attention on new boys Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals already this term. Lanzini still possesses a shedload of talent though. Already this season, he has looked bright. The 5-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend provided relatively slim pickings for the Irons’ attacking talents, but the 26-year-old still managed a shot on goal, three successful dribbles, and a pass completion rate of 81.3%, as per Whoscored. He will face easier opponents than the defending champions this season, and if he can keep that kind of form going, he should do pretty well for himself.