What will Lucas Paquetá offer West Ham United?

As Mark Noble wiped away tears at the London Stadium, bidding an emotional farewell to West Ham United after 18 years in east London, David Moyes had a void to fill in midfield.  With a seventh-place finish in the league, the club had just ensured European football would return after a magic-carpet ride through to the Europa League semi-finals, and while the Conference League, UEFA’s tertiary competition, hardly has the same pull as a trip to Barcelona or Seville, it still gave the Irons that extra bit of pulling power in the market to replace their captain.

With Declan Rice frequently linked with moves to Chelsea and Manchester United, the club always felt a degree of uncertainty in terms of recruitment.  Gianluca Scamacca added a goal threat for Serie A side Sassuolo, but the pursuit of a midfielder was proving a harder task than Moyes imagined. Despite Rice committing his future to West Ham, for the time being at least, the Irons endured a winless start to their three games of the campaign, rooted bottom of the table and tipped for an unlikely relegation with some optimistic football bets.

When all hope looked lost, Moyes pulled a cat out of the bag with the signing of Lucas Paquetá from Lyon for a club-record £51 million — a move that even surprised Moyes himself considering the calibre of player he had attracted to the London Stadium.

“I’m really pleased,” Moyes said. “We’ve been watching him for a long time and he really came to our attention when he played against us for Lyon and he was the standout player.

“We looked a lot deeper and we didn’t think he would be available, so a big thank you to the board for making it happen.”

Paquetá will bring an abundance of quality to the West Ham midfield. A technician, the Brazilian can seamlessly transition the ball between the lines and his quick feet will make him one of the most press-resistant midfielders in the league.

Another key part of his game is his versatility. Paquetá can collect the ball from defenders and turn as a six — although perhaps lacks the physicality to occupy this role alone and would be better suited to a double pivot alongside Rice — as well as a box-to-box midfielder. The 25-year-old has even done a job in the final third as a number 10 in the absence of Houssem Aouar for Les Gones, a side the Paddy Power football predictions would pick to win Ligue 1 more regularly had they not kept losing their star players.

It leaves you wondering why Paquetá, who follows in the footsteps of compatriot and former Lyon teammate Bruno Guimarães in sacrificing Champions League football, would leave France for a less fashionable English side, with Guimarães joining Newcastle United last January. Paquetá clearly believes in the project Moyes has put together at West Ham, and will be keen to earn crucial minutes ahead of the World Cup, with an outside chance of securing a starting place still on the cards. Most of all though, his desire to win is what will impress fans at the London Stadium the most.

“I am really glad to wear the West Ham jersey. I hope it will be a successful journey and I hope that we have a bright season,” the 25-year-old said. “When the fans look at me they will see dedication and commitment. I will always give everything to perform well and help West Ham to win.

With West Ham desperate to keep racking up points, and the Conference League ensuring Moyes’ side will play twice a week for the foreseeable future, Paquetá’s importance will know no bounds in the coming months, and it will be interesting to see how well he performs.

Huynh Nguyen

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