West Ham United are among the Premier League clubs in the running for Lyon’s midfield star Lucas Paqueta, boss David Moyes has confirmed. However, the Hammers will consider alternatives if the sides cannot meet on price.
Suffice it to say that the start to the 2022-23 domestic campaign has been a tough one for West Ham United. The Hammers started the season with an unenviable home date with Manchester City. To their credit, despite ‘enjoying’ just 25% possession, West Ham limited Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut to just 59 dangerous attacks and two shots on target over 90minutes. Unfortunately, one of those two shots was deposited in the back of the net by Erling Haaland, who’d also scored a first half penalty, to seal a 2-0 win.
The following weekend, against Nottingham Forest, David Moyes’ side put forth a markedly better performance, with 55 dangerous attacks and five shots on goal of their own… which, maddeningly, given the run of play and quality of chances, yielded zero goals, as the Hammer lost again, 1-0. On their return home last weekend, the story was the same as in the opener. West Ham limited Brighten to just two shots on goal in the match – unfortunately, again, one of those shots found the net in the second half and, combined with a first half penalty, yielded another 2-0 defeat.
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On the heels of consecutive top-seven finishes and a run to the Europa League semifinals, West Ham entered this season with some understandably lofty expectations. Adding to those expectations was the handful of additions that they made in the summer transfer window: most notably striker Gianluca Scamacca , who was signed for £30 million from Sassuolo and, most recently, Brazilian left back Emerson Palmieri from Chelsea.
It is worth noting however that manager David Moyes, while acknowledging fully that the difficulty of the club start is not panicking, stating that:
“I am concerned, but also I’m having to bed people in… We’ve not quite got everything in place. Hopefully our quality will show through in the coming weeks.”
At the same time, three losses and zero goals scored after three matches is a massive disappointment. Thus, it should come as no shock that the Hammers are continuing to shop rather aggressively for reinforcements in the transfer window’s final days. Topping their shopping list (as well as that of fellow Londoners Arsenal) is another Brazilian: Lyon’s 24-year-old midfield star Lucas Paquetá.
Fans in Europe first became familiar with Paquetá in 2018-19, when the then-21-year-old was signed from Brazilian club Flamengo by AC Milan for a reported €35 million. That price tag, combined with his status as a highly-touted prospect, meant that huge expectations accompanied him to Italy. Unfortunately, it was not to be for Paquetá at San Siro, as he appeared in just 44 games in all competitions over two seasons, and scored a single goal.
In September 2020, Paquetá was on the move again, this time to France’s Ligue 1, and Lyon, in the hope of getting his career back on track. Needless to say, that plan has worked out spectacularly. In his first two seasons with Lyon, Paquetá appeared in 78 matches in all competitions and scored 21 goals, including 18 in 65 league matches. In his first season in France, 2020-21, he was named Ligue 1’s Player of the Month for October, and included in the league’s Team of the Year at season’s end. In his most recent campaign, he was named the league’s best foreign player.
In the 2021-22 season, in addition to scoring nine goals and assisting on another six Paquetá secured his status is one of Europe’s best and most versatile midfielders, also ranking in the top-five in Ligue 1 in dribbles completed (81), duels won (257) and through balls attempted (16).
At this point, Paquetá’s quality is beyond question, as is his ability to bounce back from adversity. South American football expert Tim Vickery summed up the young Brazilian’s merits thusly:
“Paqueta is a very classy player. He’d be a wonderful asset to West Ham and to the Premier League because he has real left-footed class. He is an elegant attacking midfielder. He’s so versatile. I’ve seen him playing for Brazil and fill three different positions in the same game reasonably well… He’s really an attacking midfielder but he can also play up front. You can play him as a withdrawn winger, and deeper in midfield.”
It is also, worth noting however, as Vickery also has, that there is a chance that Paquetá presents something of a man-management quandary, as “there is a little bit of the petulant schoolboy about him”.
West Ham are clearly either unconcerned or sufficiently confident in the ability of Moyes and the existing players to integrate Paquetá into the side, as it’s been reported in recent days that the club had submitted a bid of £33.8 million to Lyon in exchange for the gifted midfielder.
BREAKING: Lyon reject West Ham's £33.8m offer for midfielder Lucas Paqueta pic.twitter.com/bF6kDoltPf
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 25, 2022
That the bid was rejected should come as no surprise, given Paquetá’s age, proven ability to sustain excellence over multiple seasons in Europe and contract (which runs for another three years), it’s generally accepted that this initial bid from West Ham was an opening salvo in negotiations that could escalate considerably, to more than £50 million.
It’s also worth noting that, in the event the clubs are unable to bridge their valuation gap, West Ham do have alternatives in mind, headed by Club Brugge’s Hans Vanaken, with Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovskyi and Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher also in the frame.