Why West Ham should reignite their interest in Stefan Lainer
According to a previous report from the Express last winter, West Ham were interested in signing right-back Stefan Lainer, who was then plying his trade with RB Salzburg in his homeland.
However, a move to the Premier League never materialized for the Austrian international and after reaching great heights at RB Salzburg, the 27-year-old completed a move to Borussia Monchengladbach this summer.
Lainer has grabbed his opportunities with both hands at his new club, establishing himself as the first-choice right-back following his move to Monchengladbach in the summer.
The Austrian international has scored once and laid on another couple of assists in 8 appearances in the Bundesliga, while also catching the eye in the Europa League.
The diminutive right-back, who clocked up 171 appearances for RB Salzburg, was one of the key driving forces behind the club’s march to the semi-finals of the 2017-18 UEFA Europa League.
A tally of 13 goals and 34 assists in his homeland was enough to convince Monchengladbach of his credentials and Lainer has already hit the ground running in one of the top-five leagues in Europe.
Meanwhile, West Ham have made a rather inconsistent start to their Premier League campaign this term after a summer of heavy spending that marked the arrival of marquee signings like Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals.
The Hammers recovered well from a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City on the opening day but back-to-back league defeats against Crystal Palace and Everton in recent times have seen them slip down to 11th in the standings.
West Ham simply cannot afford such inconsistency if they are to push on under the stewardship of Manuel Pellegrini and challenge for a top-six finish.
To that end, Pellegrini still lacks quality personnel in a number of areas. The Hammers are well-stocked with some top-quality talent in the attacking department but the same cannot be said when it comes to the central midfield and the backline.
With Carlos Sanchez out of contract next summer and Jack Wilshere reminding once again this season that his fitness cannot be trusted, a new holding midfielder should be a priority for Pellegrini in January.
However, bringing in a new right-back to replace the ageing Pablo Zabaleta and provide more competition for Ryan Fredericks would also make a lot of sense.
Fredericks has done reasonably well in a few games but the former Fulham man just hasn’t been consistent enough and his defensive frailties were very much exposed in their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Everton.
To put things into perspective, West Ham should consider going back in the market for Stefan Lainer in January following his impressive start to life in Germany.
The 27-year-old is very much in his prime as a professional and with Zabaleta likely to depart next summer, it is easy to see how and why the Hammers would benefit from having him in the ranks.
As per whoscored, Lainer averages 2 key passes, 1.6 crosses and 2.3 successful long balls per game, which is an upgrade on Fredericks’ numbers of 1 key pass, 0.3 crosses and 1.3 long balls in the Premier League.
Fredericks averages 2.8 tackles and 1 interception per game while being dribbled past 1.2 times on an average. Stefan Lainer, on the other hand, averages 1.3 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game in the Bundesliga while being dribbled past 0.5 times on an average.
Those figures clearly reveal that Lainer is clearly more assured in defensive situations while his end product in the final third is also a lot better as compared to Fredericks.
It is true that numbers paint only a part of the picture but it won’t be a bad idea for West Ham to bring him to the club and allow him to compete with Fredericks for a place in the playing eleven.
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Furthermore, Lainer has got a wealth of European experience under his belt and with West Ham aiming to make a return to Europe in the near future, the 27-year-old could be a more reliable option.
All in all, West Ham reigniting interest in the 15-cap Austrian international in January could go a long way towards helping them achieve some much-needed consistency in the Premier League.