Pablo Zabaleta has backed record-signing Felipe Anderson to take up the creative mantle left by Manuel Lanzini’s long-term injury.
The opening four games of the season have seen Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers bereft of creativity and they have only bagged twice so far; both through Marko Arnautovic, one of which was from the penalty spot.
Argentine Lanzini will be unable to return to ease the burden any time soon, but Zabaleta has backed fellow South American Anderson to fill the void.
What did he say?
Speaking to Sport360, via the Sun, Zabaleta said: “Losing Manuel was a big blow for us; for the manager’s style of play, it was a big blow. But we have to cope and we will see what happens. Felipe has quality — he showed that in Italy.
“He played behind the strikers when we faced Arsenal and that position seems to suit him a lot better. The defeat away against Arsenal showed what is possible. We played well and deserved at least a point. We just missed so many chances. Hopefully he will settle into the right position.
As well as backing Anderson, who joined for a reported £41m in the summer, Zabaleta also backed Manuel Pellegrini. West Ham is the third club Pellegrini and Zabaleta have worked together at, so the defender knows the manager well.
He said: “You trust in the way he works because of the teams he has worked with before. He’s a great man, a good manager and will try to find the best way to get the results.
“We have a lot of new players, they’ve come in from different countries, different leagues and now we are adapting to a different style of play under Manuel. It seems like Manuel is trying to find the best team. It takes a bit of time.”
Zabaleta is spot on
Anderson is absolutely the prime candidate to replace Lanzini. He is Pellegrini’s big creative hope; the Chilean has spent a club record fee on a player he hopes is good enough to lead the club’s new attractive style of football.
When Lanzini is back, the prospect of him, Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko in attacking midfield is mouth-watering; for the time being, Anderson must pick up the slack himself.
West Ham need Anderson to hit the ground running; while he adjusts, the likes of Robert Snodgrass might be worth a shot in the short-term because they know the league that bit better.