Just about every West Ham fan I’ve spoken to this week has spread the same misinformation or theory. The majority are overjoyed that Kalvin Phillips has finally arrived after 2 unproductive seasons at Manchester City. Phillips had been a target of manager David Moyes since his days at Leeds United and he finally got his man. So naturally West Ham fans have bought into this idea that something must be sacrificed.
Multiple fan blogs and websites have reported each other’s nonsense. The conspiracy theory goes something like this: Since Manchester City so generously decided to loan out Kalvin Phillips with an option to buy West Ham now owe some kind of human sacrifice and will have to gift midfielder Lucas Paqueta in some convoluted gentleman’s agreement because talks between the two squads broke down last summer.
Only a West Ham transfer can spark such a fantasy. In addition, if there isn’t a gentleman’s agreement in place then it's a financial issue. West Ham won’t be able to buy out Phillip’s deal from Man City because they do not have the funds to carry both. So naturally the Sky Blues would welcome Paqueta with open arms.
Lucas Paqueta isn't going anywhere
Let’s start by what we can confirm. We reported in the summer that talks broke down after it was leaked that Paqueta was involved in a gambling scandal back in his hometown. In a post titled “Lucas Paqueta bet allegations discussed in West Ham and Man City transfer talks” a team source confirmed that the allegations were brought up during negotiations as a security concern and used to lower his value.
When that didn’t work, the allegations somehow were reported to the London media. The leak would kill the deal and West Ham set one last take-it-or-leave-it offer. By that time even Paqueta had soured on moving up North.
Nothing has changed. The FA is still investigating Paqueta and unless that issue is put to rest no team let alone Man City will be bringing in Paqueta. In addition, the player situation has changed. Paqueta was meant to come in last summer and play immediately, filling in for an injured superstar Kevin De Bruyne who would be out with an injury for half the season.
With De Bruyne recently returning to the lineup and still in the plans for Man City’s future, that leaves less playing time for Paqueta, who would also have to contend with the emerging Julan Alvarez, Jeremy Doku and newly signed Claudio Echeverri.
At this point in his career, Paqueta is enjoying his playing time and would not be willing to come off the bench or compete just to get into the starting eleven. According to team sources, he and his family are extremely comfortable in London. He’s bought into the current project and is encouraged by the long-term contract agreed to by Jarrod Bowen and the additions of Mohammed Kudos and the January transfers.
For Moyes, the Phillips loan signifies tightening up the defensive midfield and adding a player who can strengthen possession. There is no indication that it's either one or the other. The plan is for both to play together and for Paqueta to continue filling out the middle or left side of the pitch. This season Paqueta has formed great chemistry with Bowen, Kudos and Emerson which at times has led to an explosion on offense. In no way does Moyes want to break that up.
Its understood that any fanbase that has suffered almost lifelong mediocrity isn’t thinking of keeping players who have succeeded. But at the age of 26, entering his prime years, Paqueta is the type of player West Ham needs to keep building around. If the team continues to sell assets they’ll never be able to level up and compete with the likes of the big 5 or 6.
For now, let the conspiracy theories rest. Forget about gentlemen’s agreements. Ignore the Bowen to replace Mo Salah conversation just because it makes sense or the Kudos to Real Madrid because that's where stars go. West Ham have situated themselves in a place where they can afford to go after bigger names. As much as fans want to complain about The London Stadium and what a horrible place it is to watch a match, the mere fact that it boasts 20,000 more seats than the Boleyn Ground is what puts the squad in contention with those bigger teams.
No longer should fans be thinking about buying low and selling high on players. Fans need to start thinking about building, adding and keeping a nucleus together. Fans who are satisfied with finishes outside of Europa contention and selling off players to buy other players to eventually sell off need to change their mindset and keep demanding more.