Feghouli can turn West Ham into a Champions League club

Spanish football expert Jason Pettigrove says the Irons have a gem

While Slaven Bilic was gracing our screens during ITV’s Euro 2016 coverage, West Ham’s money men were hard at work bringing in the Hammers’ second summer signing. If anyone doubted just how astute the Croatian was in the transfer market, they only need take a look at the debut seasons Dmitri Payet and Michail Antonio had in the claret and blue last season. Now Sofiane Feghouli can be added to the list, and the ex-Valencia man is yet another exciting addition who’ll have the locals off of their seats at the Olympic Stadium and beyond.

Just 26 years old, he’s precisely the right age to complement Bilic’s studiously crafted squad. Old enough to have gained the experience required at the top level; young enough to still be a force for a few years. And West Ham will have him for at least three of those after tying up a free transfer earlier this summer. A total of 42 goals in 243 professional appearances doesn’t speak of a player that is a threat in scoring terms, but then Feghouli’s natural game was never about goals anyway

The French-born Algerian international likes nothing better than staying out wide and bearing down on his marker in a one-on-one. Don’t let him past you because he is lightning quick and will chase everything. There’s no such thing as a lost cause with Feghouli around. He is comfortable in possession for the most part and tricky with it. Ample upper body strength means he’s adept at keeping hold of the ball too.

If there’s one Achilles heel to his game it’s a fiery temper which has often landed him in trouble: an unnecessary red card against Barcelona for hitting Carles Puyol in the face being one such incident. Get under his skin and the mist will still descend. Perhaps Bilic has bought him for precisely that edge to his game, or maybe there’s more chance of the Croatian educating the youngster in how things are done on these shores. One thing is clear: The Hammers might have got a freebie but Feghouli definitely isn’t a dud. Depending how quickly he gets used to the fast and furious pace of the English top flight, he could become, like Payet before him, the bargain of the campaign. As Bilic continues to pad out his squad with quality assists, Feghouli could be looking at helping the club to their first ever Champions League qualification in just over nine months’ time. Yes, he really is that good. BBM

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