Why West Ham should plot a January swoop for Thiago Maia
Back in August 2018, a report from the Evening Standard had claimed West Ham were interested in signing Lille midfielder Thiago Maia. However, a deal didn’t go through last summer.
Thiago Maia, 22, joined Lille from Santos in the summer of 2017 and has done well in Ligue 1. He had a decent last campaign in Ligue 1 as Lille finished runners up to Paris Saint-Germain. The defensive midfielder played 25 times in the league, assisting once.
The Brazilian has endured an injury-hit start to the new campaign, managing just two appearances in Ligue 1 so far. Nevertheless, West Ham must reignite their interest in Thiago Maia when the January transfer window commences.
West Ham really do look like a serious team this season, harbouring hopes of a top-six finish. The east Londoners bolstered their attack over the summer but failed to bring in midfield reinforcements.
Whilst Mark Noble’s powers are already on the wane, he is still a vital player for the Hammers, and his leadership skills will always be vital to Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Declan Rice has established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet following his consistently good performances since the last term. But Jack Wilshere, who was expected to add a certain level of creativity and robustness to West Ham’s play through the middle, has flattered to deceive, while Carlos Sanchez has been one of Pellegrini’s worst signings at the club.
Letting go of Pedro Obiang before the season’s start without bringing in an adequate replacement was a big mistake by Pellegrini, but the Chilean tactician can rectify it with the addition of Thiago Maia.
Maia is something of an all-round midfielder, preferring to operate in the holding role. In terms of attributes, the Brazilian excels in breaking up the opposition’s play with his tackling and interceptions skills.
He is a technically gifted midfielder who is an excellent passer and a good dribbler as well. While he may not be the most physical of players in central midfielder, the former Santos ace makes it up for his lack of height with his distribution skills and tenacity.
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The 22-year-old will help inject a much-need level of youth and energy to the Hammers midfield, whilst adding competition for the likes of Noble, Wilshere and Sanchez.
All in all, Maia would be the perfect player to partner Rice at the heart of Pellegrini’s midfield and allow creative players like Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko to play with more freedom and express themselves in the final third.
If West Ham does manage to bring Maia to the London Stadium in January, it could turn out to be a signing of real significance for the club.