One of the main criticisms aimed at West Ham over the past 18 months has been their total lack of athleticism, power and dynamism in the middle of the park.

The Hammers have often been overrun in games because of their lack of physicality in midfield.

And bearing that in mind, selling Cheikhou Kouyate to Crystal Palace for £11 million (The Guardian) in the summer of 2018 now seems to be a massive error.

The 57-capped Senegal international joined West Ham from Anderlecht in the summer of 2014. And he proved to be an instant hit in east London.

The way in which Kouyate carried the ball from defence to attack gave the Hammers something that they have not possessed since he joined the Eagles 18 months ago.

Manchester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Cheikhou Kouyate (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

In 55 Premier League games for Palace, the 30-year-old has racked up 98 tackles and 44 interceptions. He has also won 285 duals and completed 207 ball recoveries (premierleague.com).

 

Those stats prove just how much the Senegalese ace offers from a defensive aspect.

West Ham have been woefully inept defensively this season, and they really could have done with Kouyate.

Manchester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Cheikhou Kouyate (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Selling the powerful midfielder now obviously looks like a huge mistake. But what makes the decision an even more baffling one is the fact that the Hammers have failed to adequately replace the 30-year-old.

In the four seasons that Kouyate was with the Hammers, they finished 13th, 11th, 7th and 12th in the league table.

They now find themselves in 18th spot, with relegation looking like a real possibility.

And West Ham would surely not be in that position now, had they kept hold of the Senegal international 18 months ago.

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