Weeks after the high-profile appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as the new West Ham United manager, the Hammers suffered a colossal blow when the news of their star attacker Manuel Lanzini’s ACL rupture broke out.
The 25-year-old was an integral member of Jorge Sampaoli’s La Albiceleste squad, given his recent run of form, but the heartbreak will now keep him sidelined for months.
Hence, West Ham must dive into the market for attacking reinforcements and they should consider a move for Inter Milan’s Joao Mario. The player enjoyed a short but impressive loan spell in East London and he could be a brilliant option to replace Lanzini in the initial stages of the tournament.
Although they are different in terms of playing style and attributes, both Mario and Lanzini excelled as midfield attackers. Also, Mario is well-known for his contribution in the advanced areas of the pitch. In addition to that, the player can operate in a multi-functional role in the attacking third.
Mario’s versatility and work-ethic make him a perfect fit for Premier League football. He can be utilized in multiple midfield roles, down the wings and also in a central role to orchestrate the game from behind.
Lanzini, on the other hand, is a skilled individual who terrorizes defensive lines with his swift movement and shooting techniques.
The Portuguese international made 13 league appearances since his winter move whereas the Argentine appeared 27 times all season. He scored 5 goals and assisted 6 times – a statistic that might be superior to Mario’s 2 goals and 1 assist in numbers but Lanzini did spend more time on the field.
The player created more chances (1.69) per game when compared to Mario (1.49), but the winter loanee had a better take on success – 71.43% to Lanzini’s 63.16%. Over the course of the last term, Mario was better at completing aerial duels but his pass success percentage (81.3%) was lower than that of Lanzini’s ( 87.6%).
Statistics are not everything in football and Mario, despite enduring a nervy start, improved with time. He eventually performed on a consistent basis and the Hammers enjoyed an impressive run of form as they avoided a relegation scare under David Moyes.
The expectations, however, will be higher under Pellegrini this term and signing Mario could be a great move for the Hammers.