Will Benrahma do any better than Diangana would have?

On the face of it, the two deals do not exactly look like good business for us

Cast your mind back to the summer when we sold the promising home grown talent Grady Diangana for a relatively meagre fee of £18m.

Also keep in mind that the reasoning given by David Sullivan on TalkSport was that the squad needed strengthening and that left wing, Diangana’s most likely position, was an area of where we had sufficient cover.

He also claimed we had “eight wingers” at the club and an “unbalanced squad”.

In an attempt to rectify this imbalance, we spent £5m on Czech right back Vladamir Coufal and  signed Craig Dawson on loan as a fifth choice centre back whilst simultaneously loaning out the immensely talented and frustratingly inconsistent Felipe Anderson (one of the other eight wingers at the club). 

Then on deadline day we secured the signing of Brentford’s mercurial magician, Said Benrahma – predominantly a left winger!

The logic and rationale of the signing is confusing and confounding at best. The eventual overall fee for Benrahma will be around £25m, more than we got for Grady, who is both younger and has some Premier League experience.

The squad is barely better balanced. Coufal looks a good signing – very much in the Zabaleta mould. 

But there is still a worrying lack of depth all over the pitch. With the exception, of course, on the wings. The money unreservedly should have been spent elsewhere.

And yet, despite all of this, the signing of Benrahma has lifted spirits somewhat. 

It isn’t hard to see why. If there is one thing West Ham fans love, it’s a maverick. And Benrahma certainly fits that billing.

In 90 games for Brentford across all competitions, the Algerian has registered 30 goals and 27 assists. 

Last season he was a key player in getting Brentford within touching distance of the promised land. 

WhoScored.com shows him having 3.8 shots, 2.1 key passes and three successful dribbles per game.  His reward was to be voted the Supporters’ Player of the Year. 

When his departure was confirmed, the Brentford social media team posted: ‘Thank you for the magical moments, Said’ accompanied by a three minute long video showcasing some of his best moments for the Bees.

And whilst the stats are impressive, it is the ‘eye test’ that makes it clear why he may become a fan favourite. 

Benrahma plays with a swagger, a nonchalance that exudes an unwavering confidence in his own ability.  

He drops a shoulder, he twists, he turns leaving defenders bemused. He does drag backs, flicks and nutmegs, all to create a yard of space from which he can shoot or create a chance for a team mate. 

He is the type of player who will draw opposition players towards him like a moth to a flame, create room for his teammates to play in and express themselves. 

The comparisons with Dimitri Payet are inevitable. It is a cross that he will have to bear and one we will have to hope doesn’t weigh too heavy on his shoulders.

Because make no bones about it, the signing is a risk. We have gambled the money supposedly earmarked for balancing the squad on a player who could single handley win us games but one who could equally become a luxury we can ill afford. 

To begin with, Brentford are a side who tend to dominate possession meaning they can play the ball to Benrahma in a position to hurt teams with his high risk/high reward style. 

How that transfers to a side who have less of the ball, in a division where the risk is even greater, remains to be seen. 

As does how he fits into the formation that has been the bedrock of our encouraging start to the season. 

The assumption is that he will take one of the front three slots in Moyes 3-4-3 shape, but whose spot he takes is anyone’s guess. 

Fornals is industrious and has been our creator in chief this season, Bowen likewise works his socks off for the side and is a goal threat from wide that we have lacked for sometime. 

That’s not to say the “Algerian Messi” is adverse to working hard. Thomas Frank (Brentford manager) has previously praised Benrahma’s pressing capabilities and contributions to the sides ‘out of possession’ game plan. 

It is just that we know, from our experience with Anderson to name just our most recent example, that the requirements at West Ham to work hard without the ball and then produce something magical with the ball is not a balancing act many can pull off.Whether Moyes can help him find that balance between team ethos and virtuoso indulgence will determine whether Benrahma joins the pantheon of talented talisman that we Hammers love to love, or if he becomes seen as another Sullivan gamble that hasn’t come off. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.