West Ham Preview: Which Manuel Lanzini will we find this year?

The tale of the midfielder at West Ham is one of heartaches and joy. As he looks poised for a new year, it begs the question of which Lanzini will we find?

From joining West Ham during their final season at the Boleyn Ground to completing a magical comeback against Tottenham, Manuel Lanzini has seen it all over the past six years.  Beyond all of that joy does come a stabled production of pain and heartache.

Over his spell as a Hammer, he has missed 72 matches due to injuries. His biggest and most hindering happened in 2018 as he was training for the World Cup with Argentina. Lanzini had a Cruciate Ligament Rupture taking him out of anything football-related for just over 10 months.

Since that injury, he has played for West Ham just 50 times over the course of three seasons. Last season he earned 21 starts in all competitions, scoring once (a big one) and assisting his teammates once. There was a lot of speculation on whether or not he would stay going into the 2021/22 campaign, but he’s still here and playing well in preseason.

West Ham Preview: Which Manuel Lanzini will we find this year?

Most recently, during a preseason friendly against Celtic, Lanzini was played in a deeper role, and he excelled while on the pitch. After a tough 15 minutes, he ended up being a key factor in the Hammer’s comeback. Lanzini also started the counter-attack, which led to West Ham’s third goal of the afternoon.

The former Argentinian international is in top form currently, and if he keeps it up, he will be hard to bench. With the returning of Rice and Soucek, however, it’s improbable that we see him playing in a deeper role. But that experience can bode well for him playing higher as well.

If he can stay healthy and stay in form or somewhere close to it, expect Lanzini to have a comeback caliber year. After all, West Ham is wearing a similar shirt to the traditional Argentina kit; will he shine as he has in the past for club and country? In 2016 he scored eight goals for the club, his most ever. If he is fit and ready, expect him to see the pitch at least 30 times.

With that number of matches, I comfortably predict that he can notch in five goals and five assists, making him just two points shy of his all-time points total since coming to West Ham. The next two preseason matches will be telling when it comes to how he stays in form and how he adapts to tougher teams, but the fact that he is back and shining can bring hope from now on.