Why West Ham must plot a January swoop for Andre Almeida
After a summer of heavy investment, West Ham are fighting to break into the Premier League’s top six this season. However, they didn’t have an ideal start as Manuel Pellegrini’s men were battered 5-0 by Manchester City at the London Stadium.
The 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City was enough to expose West Ham’s defensive frailties. Nevertheless, Pellegrini’s side improved after the season opener and went unbeaten in the league until the 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace last month. In fact, the Hammers are yet to win in their last five games.
Pellegrini must turn things around quickly if his team are to keep pace with the top six sides. Come January, the West Ham boss should reinforce his backline that has leaked 17 goals so far. While a central defender has to be at the top of his priority, the Chilean must not ignore adding a new right-back to his squad.
Ryan Fredericks has blown hot and cold throughout the season that saw Pellegrini hand Pablo Zabaleta a start against Newcastle United at the weekend.
Zabaleta came in for a lot of criticism for his dismal display in the 3-2 defeat to the Magpies. The veteran Argentinean was given a torrid time by Allan Saint-Maximin as Steve Bruce’s side claimed a surprise victory away from home.
With Zabaleta well past his prime and Fredericks apparently needing real competition, West Ham must look to sign a right-back. Back in May, The Express had claimed that West Ham were one of the Premier League sides interested in signing Benfica star Andre Almeida.
Andre Almeida, 29, joined Benfica from Belenenses back in 2012 and has played close to 250 games across all competitions at Estádio Sport Lisboa e Benfica.
He has been heavily involved in the last couple of seasons, cementing his place in the team at right-back. The Portuguese contributed with two goals and 12 assists in 33 Primeira Liga games last term, a healthy return from a full-back.
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The 29-year-old is an attacking right-back, who is also adept at playing on the left flank and in the midfield as well. This versatility could also see Almeida deputise at left-back for Arthur Masuaku and Ryan Cresswell when required.
The Premier League is very much built around the overlapping full-backs now and the presence of Almeida would help West Ham’s cause massively on the attacking front.
At 29, Almeida is operating at the peak of his powers and would be a solid addition to West Ham’s backline. Plus, he’ll be ideal to cover and compete with Fredericks for a spot in Pellegrini’s starting XI.