The Algerian wizard is casting a spell over defences this season

Said Benrahma is thriving in the role Jesse Lingard did so well in last season

Said Benrahma (WHU) at the EPL match West Ham United v Burnley, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th January, 2021. English Premier League matches are still being played behind closed doors because of the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and government social distancing/lockdown restrictions.

Who needs Jesse Lingard when Said Benrahma is playing like this? I’m serious. Because West Ham don’t.

We needed a striker, a centre-back and a centre-midfielder. Urgently. And we got two-and-a-half of those I’d say.

Kurt Zouma and Alex Kral are excellent signings and just what we needed. And I think David Moyes has navigated the striker situation very cleverly with Nikola Vlasic.

Playing second fiddle to Michail Antonio was always going to be a tough sell to any out-and-out centre-forward we were trying to sign.

So someone who can play there as well as in attacking midfield gives us flexibility and is a master stroke I think.

However, Vlasic’s primary position is the CAM slot where Benrahma is currently running the show.

It is widely accepted the Croatian’s arrival from CSKA Moscow, in a deal that could rise to £33.4m, signalled the end of Lingard’s chances of returning this summer.

But after Benrahma’s explosive start to the season, I’m glad he stayed at Old Trafford.

I am more than confident Benrahma can fill the Lingard-shaped hole that was left in David Moyes’ starting XI.

And while I hope the added competition from Vlasic pushes him to improve even more, I think we are a better prepared squad with Benrahma and the former Everton man instead of JLingz.

Bennie’s two goals and two assists in his first two Premier League games of the campaign showed a player brimming with confidence and playing with the freedom that comes with being an almost certain starter.

I, for one, have absolutely no problem with the amount of game time he got last season.

Lingard was playing out of his skin and Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen are better in wide positions than Benrahma.

His final ball and decision making were way off what we are already seeing this season – and before you shout at me, I’m not blaming him for that, he had a lot to contend with.

But it’s Moyes’ job to put the good of the team ahead of the short term development of one player and that’s exactly what he did last season by limiting Benrahma’s time on the pitch.

But a full pre-season and time under Moyes’ stewardship now fills me with confidence he can do exactly what Lingard did for us last season.

Now one man who knows exactly what it takes to be part of a scintillating West Ham attack is Tony Cottee.

The legendary Boys of 86 star hit headlines for backing PAI Capital’s bid to buy West Ham last month.

We were lucky to speak to him for nearly three hours in August over two episodes of our We Are West Ham podcast.

And Cottee said: ‘Let’s be honest, if we can get Jesse Lingard back I think we would all take that.

‘Particularly in his early games he played for us last season he was absolutely sensational.

‘He’s played for England as well since. You’re talking about an international player, that’s how good he is. If we can get Lingard back, let’s get him back.

‘He was a big part of the squad as well. All the lads loved him. He wasn’t one of these flash Harrys who comes down, doesn’t want to run around and doesn’t want to be a part of things. 

‘He got involved with everything that was going on and he put in the performances and the effort on the field which is what players and the fans want to see.

‘Having said all that, at the moment, we’ve got to deal with what we’ve got, we haven’t got Lingard in the squad, we’ve got Benrahma.

‘And I said when we bought this guy, we were signing an exceptional talent. I saw enough of him at Brentford to know that he could potentially be our new Dimitri Payet.

‘That was what I said at the time and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. I think what he did need was a proper pre-season, be a part of the lads and firmly establish himself in the squad.

‘I think sometimes we all forget, I’m probably guilty of it as well, just how difficult it can be for a player moving from another club.

‘He was going up a division as well. So he had to deal with that. You’re only moving across London but it’s still perhaps moving house, changing your kids’ schools, keeping the missus happy – all these things come into it.

‘We saw glimpses of him last season but I think in pre-season, his goal against Brentford was a great goal.

‘He got on the scoresheet against Newcastle. And I think we’re now starting to see that player we hoped he would become.

‘If he’s got the confidence and the belief that the manager’s going to play him and he’s going to be in the team every week I think we’ve got a sensational player on our hands.’

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