West Ham United has sealed another impressive deal, adding $48 million winger Felipe Anderson from Lazio.
It’s a club record deal from the Irons, whose ambitions have been short-circuited in recent seasons by stop-start play under Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.
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Now Manuel Pellegrini is in charge, and has made a series of purchases including Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Issa Diop, and Jack Wilshere amongst others.
Anderson was fantastic for Lazio last season, though he was part of a loaded attack with Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Malinkovic-Savic.
Now the challenge is gelling quickly inside a short window. As we’ve seen in the past with markedly changed mid-table sides — see: Everton’s 2017-18 season — hitting the ground running is key.
Players have been convinced of West Ham’s ambition. Here’s the latest, Anderson, from WHUFC.com:
“West Ham is a club with a lot of tradition, lots of great players have played here, like Bobby Moore, Carlos Tevez and Di Canio. They were great players and idols here, and I’m aiming big, who knows, maybe I could hit their heights and be a legend here too.”
But turning that into on-field success and in-room culture has been a challenge. The move to London Stadium didn’t help, and managerial instability has been anything but a boon to the Irons. There have been plenty of self-inflicted wounds, too.
West Ham’s lineup could be frightening, even in the face of injuries to Andy Carroll (surprise!) and Winston Reid. But managing egos new and old is a challenge, which is why the Pellegrini hire could be a masterstroke.
Consider this possible XI from Pellegrini, who largely operated his Manchester City with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 with two holding/defensive/deep-lying center midfielders (There have been rumors West Ham could sell Cheikhou Kouyate).
There are a lot of options for Pellegrini’s front four. Anderson and Yarmolenko both prefer right wing, while Arnautovic likes the left but has proven adept as a center forward if Pellegrini becomes the latest manager to eschew the idea of Javier Hernandez up top. Manuel Lanzini‘s injury does seem to put Wilshere in the No. 10 role.
Fredericks — Diop — Balbuena — Masuaku
Obiang — Kouyate
Anderson — Wilshere — Yarmolenko
So the ingredients are there, with Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Zabaleta, and Jordan Hugill joining Chicharito in keeping training competitive.
But Pellegrini will have to navigate a culture that saw a seedy finish to the season, with protests and ugly incidents amongst supporters and players on the field in London.
And he does seem the man for the job. But if he can’t do it… well, stay tuned.