West Ham United were heavily linked with a move for Celta Vigo midfielder Stanislav Lobotka all summer.
Manuel Pellegrini appeared determined to strengthen his midfield in the window.
And the Hammers wanted Slovakian midfielder Lobotka, who has been dubbed the ‘new Luka Modric’ in Spain (The Guardian).
West Ham opted for Fornals over ‘new Modric’
In the end West Ham felt Celta wanted too much for the midfielder. And they opted to sign Pablo Fornals for around £24million instead.
At the time many West Ham fans felt it was a strange decision from Pellegrini and director of football Mario Husillos.
West Ham were in need of a box-to-box midfielder with high energy who could play alongside the brilliant Declan Rice.
Fornals, a more attack-minded, skilful playmaking midfielder was considered a top signing. But not instead of someone like the stocky, quick and powerful Lobotka, who boasted a 91% passing accuracy and strong defensive statistics too last season.
While Fornals has struggled to shine so far for West Ham, Lobotka showed Pellegrini exactly what he is missing with a brilliant performance for Slovakia against Wales on Thursday night.
Stan the man shows Pellegrini what he’s missing
The Euro 2020 qualifier ended 1-1 to give Slovakia a genuine chance to make it to the finals next summer.
And West Ham may regret not signing Lobotka before then. Because he will likely have plenty of admirers if he continues to impress on the international stage.
The 24-year-old was N’Golo Kante-esque for the Slovaks. The diminutive star was everywhere as he played a disciplined and controlled game in the centre of the pitch.
Everything Slovakia did went through him as he lived up to his big ‘new Modric’ billing.
Lobotka could have pushed West Ham closer to Prem elite
Any West Ham fans watching the game would have been wondering just what might have been if the Hammers had signed Lobotka.
Pellegrini’s side have made a decent start to the new campaign.
With Lobotka in the heart of midfield alongside Rice and Noble, the East Londoners would have looked ridiculously robust and full of energy.
Instead the Hammers have ageing flop Carlos Sanchez as their only defensive midfield cover.
Perhaps West Ham should reignite their interest in January before Lobotka attracts too much attention from elsewhere.