Manuel Lanzini is seemingly at a crossroads in his career at West Ham. The Argentine has one year left on his contract, and now, it seems Pablo Fornals will be joining the club.
The Spaniard can play out wide, but the vast majority of his matches for both Malaga and Villarreal have been as a number 10, playing centrally.
I can’t see how manager Manuel Pellegrini can justify playing Fornals out of position after spending the best part of £24m on the midfielder.
With that being the case, you have to question Lanzini’s role as a first-team regular next season. There have been suggestions that both could play in a midfield diamond, but Pellegrini has rarely deviated from a 4-2-3-1 formation since arriving at the London Stadium.
If he has changed his system, it has been to a 4-4-2, which would mean even fewer options for the Argentine to play a prominent role in the side.
Lanzini definitely struggled for form following his return from a serious knee injury, but that was to be expected considering the length of time he was out for.
Even then, one goal and two assists from ten appearances is hardly a disaster. In fact, both of those assists came from a left-wing position so perhaps you could argue Pellegrini is planning to use him in wider areas next campaign.
With Felipe Anderson a nailed on starter for the left flank, though, any game time would likely come on the right-hand side, but the Hammers have an abundance of wide players to fill that position.
Robert Snodgrass, Michail Antonio and Andriy Yarmolenko can all play there. There has been talk of Antonio departing but his positional flexibility would arguably make him a more useful player than Lanzini.
Of course, Yarmolenko may need some time to get back to full fitness after his Achilles injury, but it’s still not a strong case to keep a player like Lanzini whose entering the last 12 months of his contract.
At 26 years of age, he is about to enter the prime of his career, and West Ham could lose a significant sum of money if he doesn’t sign a new deal.
Fornal’s arrival could really be the catalyst for his departure. With all things considered, Lanzini’s sale this summer looks more certain than ever.