It’s fair to assume that just because the Mark Noble-Declan Rice partnership clicked for West Ham United last season it doesn’t guarantee they’ll necessarily star together again next season. Indeed, the club have been linked to a number of midfielders already and, despite Noble’s obvious importance, the Hammers could probably look to upgrade on the 32-year-old.
To that end, Manuel Pellegrini is apparently eyeing a bright new talent to fit alongside Rice’s brilliance in midfield. According to the Guardian, the Hammers are allegedly interested in Stanislav Lobotka to further muscle up their engine room and, in our minds, the Slovakian is potentially a proper upgrade over the ageing Noble.
Now, no one is denying Noble’s importance to the squad, given his rapport with the fans. However, the Guardian also reported back at the start of the month that Pellegrini wanted to pair Rice with Andre Gomes, so it’s clear there is a desire amongst those in East London to try and give the England man the best possible partner.
As far as Lobotka (valued at £22.5m by Transfermarkt) goes, the 24-year-old’s proven a key cog for Celta Vigo, with his work even attracting PSG’s attention (per Paris United via GFFN) back in January. When you look at his superior passing accuracy to Noble’s (89.6% to 85.3%), perhaps you can start to get a picture as to why the club reportedly want him.
Control from deeper areas might be able to help the team bring some consistency into the ranks. One of the major frustrations amongst the fanbase this season must be in regard to their varying levels of performances and results across the campaign, so perhaps bringing someone in who can help keep the ball better would go some way into addressing that.
The Telegraph even labelled them the Premier League’s most baffling team back in January, after all.
The likes of Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena have shown signs of a fairly stoic backline and, outside of the central striking area, the club do boast a decent enough frontline so a touch more control in the engine room does appear to be at least one of the big issues in the side.
Obviously, passing doesn’t always paint the full picture and Noble is always likely to command a role in the squad considering his standing in Stratford, but Lobotka’s potential arrival does look like something to help toughen up the team in a key area. Averaging 0.8 interceptions and 0.5 clearances per 90 min last season, he might not be one of the best destroyers around, but does appear to have the makings of a multi-faceted game, and would seemingly bring something different to Pellegrini’s outfit next year.
West Ham fans, would you be pleased to see Lobotka partner up with Rice next season? Join the discussion by commenting below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!