Date: 22nd October 2019 at 1:21pm
Written by:

OPINION

Manuel Lanzini’s form has been on a downward trajectory since he signed a new contract at West Ham on August 30.

The 26-year-old started the season like a flash in the pan, assisting goals in each of the Hammers’ Premier League fixtures against Brighton and Watford while after four games played, only Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne [4] had averaged more key passes per appearance than West Ham’s pint-sized playmaker [3.5].

It wasn’t just Lanzini’s ability to carve gaping holes into defences with his passing, it was also his ability on the ball itself that impressed as, by the end of August, only Arsenal’s record-signing Nicolas Pepe had averaged more dribbles per outing than the Argentina international [3.3].

Ex-Tottenham striker Darren Bent even drew comparisons between Lanzini and Bayern Munich star Philippe Coutinho. Based on the Argentine’s start to the season, you can see why.

But, since the start of September, Lanzini’s performances have gradually gotten worse, to the point where he was almost useless in the 2-0 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Everton had been in horrific form. They were in the bottom three, had lost their last four league fixtures and the pressure was mounting on manager Marco Silva.

Yet, Lanzini failed to create anything with stats by WhoScored showing that the attacking midfielder made zero key passes, was dispossessed three times and had a pass accuracy of just 72.5 per cent.

In comparison to the rest of the season, Lanzini had only failed to register key passes against Manchester City on the opening day of the campaign and in the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in the Hammers’ last match before the Everton debacle. He had also not been dispossessed more than twice in a match and his pass accuracy had never stooped below 76.5 per cent.

Lanzini’s £100,000-a-week [Daily Mail] contract was signed at the end of August and it is clear that there have been problems since then.

Maybe it is a coincidence? Or maybe there is a real link between a player’s form and his latest pay rise.

Either way, it is time for Manuel Pellegrini to do something about it – starting with this weekend’s clash against Sheffield United at the London Stadium.

Jack Wilshere is someone who might be able come in for Lanzini while Pablo Fornals could be shifted into the central attacking midfield role that he shone in at Villarreal and led to West Ham forking out £24million for him in the summer.

Alternatively, a change of system could be on the cards.

Albian Ajeti could be named in the starting line-up alongside Sebastien Haller in a 4-4-2 formation while Andriy Yarmolenko’s form in front of goal might also give Pellegrini some food for thought.

Pellegrini does have other options. He does not have to go out every game with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Lanzini sitting in the number 10 role behind Haller.

Based on his declining form, it makes a lot of sense that Pellegrini should axe Lanzini for Saturday’s showdown with the Blades.