One West Ham Attacker Will Benefit from Dimitri Payet’s Absence

Can Manuel Lanzini take up Dimitri Payet's mantle? Photo Credit: Egghead06 via Wikimedia Commons
Can Manuel Lanzini take up Dimitri Payet's mantle? Photo Credit: Egghead06 via Wikimedia Commons /

West Ham will enter their next match against Tottenham without their French star Dimitri Payet. His absence could equal disaster for the Hammers during his projected three-month absence, but there’s at least one player who may seize the opportunity to shine. During Payet’s absence, Manuel Lanzini will have the opportunity to show his star quality in the Premier League.

It’s fair to say that Lanzini has been in Payet’s shadow through the season’s first 12 matches. Multitudes of pundits and fans alike have waxed eloquently about Payet’s play as a central attacking midfielder. West Ham fans have noticed that Lanzini has been almost as good.

On the whole, Payet has been better than Lanzini on the young season. He boasts a rating of 7.68 compared to Lanzini’s 7.32. Payet has scored five goals, Lanzini has only knocked in three. The Frenchman has three assists, whereas the Argentine has just one. You get the picture, Payet has outplayed him by every objective measure on the whole. Ironically, in this case the statistics don’t tell us the whole story.

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I doubt even many West Ham fans understand just how good Lanzini has been when he’s been deployed in his preferred role as a central attacker. When he’s started at that spot his rating takes a gigantic leap all the way up to 8.43. Two of his goals and one of his assists came in those three appearances as well. It does raise the question of how good Lanzini could be if he had the number 10 role all to himself.

Unfortunately for West Ham fans and perhaps fortunately for Lanzini, we are about to find out. With Payet out-of-the-way Lanzini will see an extended run of games where he can pull the strings of the Hammer attack. West Ham has little in terms of competition for the spot so he’ll be a near lock to start every week.

This could be a blessing for Lanzini’s career even if it’s a curse for West Ham’s season. With Payet in the lineup Lanzini was always going to be on the periphery of the game. Payet’s talent dictates that he be a dominant force on the ball and with only one ball on the pitch, that limits Lanzini. Without the genius of Payet in the middle of the attack those responsibilities will fall directly to Lanzini. It’s a heavy burden, but one which should excite the young Argentine.

Optimistic West Ham fans believe that Lanzini can come in and replicate Payet’s role without missing a beat. I’m inclined to agree somewhat. The lad is an outstanding talent who should really shine after being given the keys to the attack. The only caveat is that while Payet had Lanzini’s help, Lanzini won’t have the same quality surrounding him. Victor Moses doesn’t posses the same talent even though I think his play could also pick up in Payet’s absence.

Over the coming weeks we’ll get a much clearer picture on Manuel Lanzini. His play in Dimitri Payet’s absence will either brand him a Premier League star or just a supporting actor.