Angelo Ogbonna’s season-ending injury was a huge blow for our title-challenging campaign. But in what could be a cruel double blow for the veteran defender, his contract is also set to expire at the end of the season – so was the Liverpool game the last we’ll see of Oggy in clarent and blue?
Our 3-2 victory against Liverpool at the London Stadium was celebrated by supporters and players alike but it turned out to be a dark day for the affable defender. It was a challenge involving Mo Salah that caused the injury but it wasn’t until a stray elbow from Liverpool’s Diego Jota caused a laceration above his eye, and resulted in him being removed from the field.
The injury to his head looked significant. The collision could be heard from the stands, blood was visible, and he had to come off the pitch before being substituted – leaving fans worried about the potential head injury. It wasn’t until he was patched up and sat on the bench that he noticed discomfort in his knee. That was a lot of damage to be done to one player in just 22 minutes of game-time, and subsequent scans and tests revealed an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Regretfully for both the player and the fans, this injury was later confirmed as one with a significant recovery time, with David Moyes saying: ‘I think it would be hard for Angelo to be back this season.’ Ogbonna has since had surgery to repair the damage, but as I’ve mentioned, this is a huge blow for West Ham to have lost such an important and reliable member of their first XI.
And provided he makes a full recovery – and barring the competition he’ll face for his position – we should see him take to the pitch again for the Hammers. The Athletic has reported that ‘his deal was set to expire at the end of the season but the club are understood to hold an extension option, which they will exercise to aid his recovery from the lengthy injury,’ which is excellent news for both player and club.
It also helps that Ogbonna has been having an incredible season so far, with Moyes praising him after his injury by saying: ‘he’s a great team player and his performances have been great’. He’s been hard to unseat in the centre of West Ham’s defense alongside the equally un-seatable Kurt Zouma.
Both Issa Diop and Craig Dawson will be in contention to fill the injured Italian international’s spot – and while Dawson is certainly higher in the pecking order and a notable player for giving 110%, he can be an occasional liability, and does lack the calmness and composure that Ogbonna brings to the side.
Issa Diop has been dropping down the pecking order and hasn’t been shining this season in the (admittedly few) opportunities that he’s had. His performance in the 2-2 Europa League draw with Genk did him no favours; he was beasted within the fourth minute to give away a goal and didn’t quite get back into the game afterwards.
We could see West Ham invest in this position to bolster it, either in January to atone for Ogbonna’s injury or at the end of the season, given Ogbonna is aging and his contract was to end at this time. However, his performances thus far this season would have all but guaranteed a contract extension.
Also, the signing of Kurt Zouma was meant to be the ‘star’ signing to strengthen this position for the foreseeable future – so it may be that we go in for a loan signing to provide cover and welcome Oggy back by next season. After all, it would really take a strong signing to force a powerhouse like Ogbonna out of his spot – at the moment, everyone else is just keeping it warm for him. We’re all wishing you well, Angelo. Get well soon.