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West Ham: Emmanuel Longelo could be Aaron Cresswell’s heir

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West Ham United could have an heir to left-back Aaron Cresswell on their hands, with Emmanuel Longelo impressing considerably out on loan at Birmingham City.

The 21-year-old has made seven appearances since joining the Blues on a season-long loan at the end of August, showing he is already trusted to play at a high standard despite his inexperience, and he notched his first goal for the club in a game against Queens Park Rangers at the end of October.

This development comes at a time when Cresswell is playing well, with an average match rating in the Premier League of 7.16 on SofaScore putting the three-time England international behind only Declan Rice as the Hammers’ best performer so far this season.

However, now 32 years old, the Liverpool-born full-back is approaching the age where manager David Moyes must start thinking about long-term replacements, which is also compounded by the fact that his current contract expires at the end of the season, with seemingly no new deal on the horizon.

Having rotation options and maintaining player fitness is also more of a concern for the modern-day West Ham, with the club now competing on all fronts, reaching the Europa League semi-final last season, and securing their qualification to the knockout phase of the Europa Conference League during this campaign.

With that in mind, Moyes needs younger options available, who are more capable of playing in every competition, whereas the £50k-per-week stalwart has featured in just two Europa Conference League games this season, in order to be rested for the Premier League matches.

On the other hand, Longelo has received plaudits from Birmingham boss John Eustace for the number of matches he has managed to play for his new club:

“It’s unbelievable,” Eustace said. “Even at the end of the game on Wednesday, he was getting stronger. His fitness levels have been excellent. He is a young lad, learning his trade now, to get those five games in 19 days is an achievement, especially not having a pre-season.”

In some ways, the academy graduate could also be an improvement on the club’s current first-choice left-back if he continues his development, showing a keen eye for goal in the Premier League 2 last season, contributing one goal and five assists in 18 appearances, compared to three assists for Cresswell in the whole of last season.

For the time being, it is important that the youngster continues to progress during his loan spell, but in the not-so-distant future, he could be a fantastic left-back for West Ham.

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