West Ham’s happy dilemma: Who starts - Fornals or Lanzini?
- Credit: Archant
Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini needs to sort out his best team
West Ham new boy Pablo Fornals helped Spain under-21s to lift the European Championships on Sunday.
The 23-year-old, who signed for the Hammers last month in a £24 million deal from Villarreal, has certainly had a busy and successful summer.
He has scored two goals in five appearances in Spain's Euro campaign.
And while England were crashing out at the group stage with two defeats out of three matches, Spain were in a different class.
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Fornals started the final and helped his team to a 2-1 win over Germany in Sunday's final.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini loves technically gifted players and listening to what Fornals says, it seems he is just that.
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"I'm concerned about not losing balls and trying to make my team-mates' life easy as much as possible, but I don't think the right option is always the easy one," he told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
"Every second that you spend with the ball, the closer the pressure on you becomes and the freer your team-mates are. You play football to look for weaknesses and spaces. If I have two opponents with me there will always be a teammate who is alone and free."
Fornals will now go on a well-earned holiday before he teams up with his new team-mates for pre-season training.
And when he does arrive it begs two important questions: "Where will he fit into the West Ham team? And secondly, who will he replace in the current starting line-up?"
Fornals has shown that he is a winner. He has a trophy to prove it and that is something that few in the current squad can boast.
And it seems that if he is to start then the obvious casualty would be Argentinian Manuel Lanzini.
Still only 26 himself, Lanzini missed most of last season through injury, but when he did return, he showed that he still has plenty to offer.
He struggled a little with his match fitness in the 10 matches he did play, but by the end of the season he was beginning to fire on all cylinders, scoring at Watford in the final game of the campaign.
Lanzini has been a great servant to the club since he arrived from Al Jazira in 2015, initially on loan.
He finally cost £10m to make the switch and alongside Dimitri Payet in midfield, he formed a formidable partnership.
Lanzini is currently negotiating a possible new five-year contract at the club, but there is also interest from Turkish giants Fenerbahce.
However, if Manuel Pellegrini is determined to make West Ham a team with a 'big club' mentality, then surely keeping Lanzini will be one of his priorities.
Top teams have deep squads, so just imagine the Hammers with both Fornals and Lanzini, even if they don't both start games.
Fornals looks to be a hot prospect with his touch, passing and dribbling skills, as well as his goalscoring. But he is still only 23 and has never played in the Premier League.
Lanzini is tried and tested and has a wealth of experience at this level.
He may have had his injury problems, but he is surely worth keeping and all that remains is whether he will be happy not starting every week.
If West Ham are winning, then that should not be a problem for him, Fornals or indeed the rest of the squad.
It is when they are not doing so well that the pressure will be on Pellegrini to keep everyone happy.
But then that is the sort of problems that so-called 'big clubs' face all the time.
It is something of a luxury and Hammers fans could well be in for a treat next season.