Paul Merson has laid into Manuel Pellegrini’s summer decision to sell Cheikhou Kouyate to Crystal Palace.

After the Hammers opened their Premier League season with four straight defeats, with a lack of energy in midfield a constant feature, Merson took aim at the call to offload Kouyate.

However, with Merson claiming that midfield lethargy was a problem last season, he contradicted himself somewhat. Kouyate was at the club then, and Pellegrini wasn’t, which served to undermine his argument.

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND – MARCH 11: Ex footballer Paul Merson enjoying day two of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 11, 2015 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

What did he say?

Speaking to Sky Sports’ The Debate, Merson said: “I think it’s the same as it was last year; I don’t think there’s any pace in the team.

“I think if there was one player last season that could get around midfield and hurry people up when they didn’t have the ball, it was Kouyate who has gone to Crystal Palace.


“He went for a cup of tea, I think it was about £8million, which is nothing.” The Independent reported the fee for Kouyate to be £11m.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 04: Cheikhou Kouyate of Crystal Palace during the Pre-Season Friendly between Crystal Palace and Toulouse at Selhurst Park on August 4, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Kouyate did not add pace last season

Merson has underlined the issue in his own argument; Kouyate was at the club last season when they still lacked energy in midfield.

Kouyate’s last strong season was the 2015/16 campaign; the chances are he wouldn’t have been able to lift the midfield lethargy currently on show at the London Stadium.

The jury is still out on huge swathes of Pellegrini’s summer business. There is certainly plenty of potential criticism to be made, but Merson’s wide of the mark with this one.

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