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According to reports from French outlet L’Equipe, West Ham United are mulling over making a £13.5million bid for Montpellier attacker Ryad Boudebouz.
The Algerian international was one of the best players for the Ligue 1 outfit last season and has attracted interest from several quarters so far. Spanish side Real Betis are reported to have made an offer, but the bid is lesser than what Montpellier are demanding for the star, which has provided the Hammers a leeway to swoop in and sign Boudebouz.
The Hammers have been very active in the transfer window in the past fortnight, having captured the signings of Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City, Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen, Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City to add to the free transfer signing of Pablo Zabaleta. But manager Slaven Bilic still remains on the hunt for an attacking player who can add a more creative edge to their forward line.
Since the departure of star man Dimitri Payet in January earlier this year, the creative burden has fallen entirely on the shoulders of Manuel Lanzini. While the Argentine has stepped up nicely and handled the responsibilities very well, a big Payet shaped hole still looms large at the London Stadium.
Boudebouz could be the right man to fill that hole for the Hammers. The 27-year old had an exceptional season for Montpellier, finishing with 11 goals and 10 assists in all competitions from 34 games. The club finished in a lowly 15th place in the Ligue1 standings and if not for the Algerian’s brilliance, they would have been facing the prospect of relegation. Primarily used as a central attacking midfielder, he is adept at playing on the wings as well.
Boudebouz scored 3 goals more than Payet last term and had just one assist lesser than the Frenchman in all competitions. In his 33 Ligue1 appearances, the 27-year old played a total of 117 key passes in the Ligue1 last season, which was the highest by any player in the top five leagues of Europe last season. Payet managed 113 of those, for both West Ham and Marseille combined. The Montpellier man averaged 3.5 key passes per game, and Hammers’ Lanzini pales in comparison with just 1.6 key passes.
The Algerian international also completed a total of 72 crosses last season, just two less than Payet, averaging 2.2 accurate crosses per game, despite playing most number of matches as a No.10, showing his ability to drift wide into the channels and create chances for his target men. In comparison, Lanzini averaged just 0.6 accurate cross per game.
This kind of creativity and the ability to pump in crosses from wide areas could easily get the best out of the likes of Hernandez and Andy Carroll in the Hammers’ attack. Signing Boudebouz would, in no way threaten Lanzini’s place in the side, but would only help the Argentine get better and mould himself into a goal-scoring midfielder.
Lanzini enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Payet before the Frenchman left the club and if he manages to strike up a similar partnership with Boudebouz, it would add a whole other dimension to the Hammers’ attack. An attacking line with Chicharito as the leading man, flanked by Michail Antonio and Arnautovic, with the creativity of Boudebouz and Lanzini in behind would definitely be a fearsome prospect for many a defence without a doubt.
At £13.5million, someone with the creativity and the playmaking abilities of Boudebouz will be a great addition for the Hammers and will make the team a whole lot better. Most of all, he will easily fill the hole left in the team by the departure of Dimitri Payet.