Aguerd, Paqueta and Emerson were part of an ambitious transfer window in 2022, where the club spent approximately £160m. The 2022 window, which also included the signings of Flynn Downes, Gianluca Scamacca and Maxwell Cornet, is often regarded as a poor window.
Was £90 million plus money well spent on Aguerd and the two Brazilians? Emerson came to the club with a bag of medals, via the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and FA Cup with Chelsea and UEFA European Championship with Italy.
Despite this impressive CV, a number of fans weren’t overly impressed with the signing and saw it as buying another cast-off from a so-called big club. Emerson started off as back-up to housewives’ choice Aaron Cresswell but went on to secure the left-back spot as his own, finishing last season strongly.
He then went on to be the first player to complete a full set of UEFA’s winner’s medals, when we won the Conference League in the summer of 2023. Emerson has looked good so far this season, including winning the penalty that Paqueta then converted in the excellent 3-1 win against Chelsea.
Emerson has energy and pace, and can create along that left-side, and works well with his compatriot Paqueta. He has gone from being a Chelsea cast-off, to a key player over in the better part of London.
The left-back could do with cutting down on his bookings, as he has already had to sit out due to yellow cards this season, due to five bookings in the opening nine games. At 29, with a few years ahead of him, it looks like £13 million well spent. We know that Mr Sullivan isn’t a fan of spending on full backs, so Emerson may well be around for the next decade anyway.
As for Aguerd, he’s a pedigree centre-back, highly rated by football hipsters, and those ‘in the know’.
Kevin Nolan described him as the club’s best signing last season and he was not cheap at £30m plus from the French side Rennes. Aguerd has suffered with several injuries, including the one at the start of his Hammers’ career. I’m a little split on Aguerd – watching him at the World Cup, you could see what a player he is, and why he continues to be linked with clubs such as Liverpool.
But he can switch off, and several errors have led to him being sent off and to opposition goals, for example against Liverpool, this season. Maybe looking over his shoulder at Mavrapanos, who has looked good in his limited appearances, it will be interesting to see how the season pans out for Aguerd.
If he cuts out the mistakes, he is a super player. If those mistakes continue, he may well find himself on the bench.
Last but by no means least, Paqueta. Now here’s a player. After an indifferent start, he soon lit up the Bowl with some real flourishes of skill and flair. So much so that Uncle Pep came calling with bags of Saudi money, and it looked a banker that Paqueta was on his way to the London Stadium of the North.
Fans were debating whether they would take a straight £60 million, or money plus Cole Palmer and any number of other City prospects. Paqueta’s head was turned at the prospect of being coached by one of the best managers in the world, instead of being told to run by David Moyes, and he looked like he was out of the door.
Then, boom, allegations of him being involved with family/friends in a breach of football betting regulations, and the deal was off. Paqueta was gutted, but to be fair, he cracked on, and has again looked a fantastic player so far this season.
We paid £51 million for the Brazilian, and with a reported release clause of £85 million that kicks in this summer, we could turn a tidy profit. That said, it may be a case of more of the same, as when another mercurial talent – Dimi Payet left – who replaces him?
Hopefully with Tim Steidten now in post, that problem will already be being looked at. I would love to see him stay, and for us to build a team around him, but we know that when teams like City come calling, there is little chance to keep hold of a player.
There is also the outstanding investigation into the betting scandal that could see Paqueta end up with a considerable ban from football, let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Overall, all three players have been good signings. It is an important season for all three, to push on and drive the team forward.
Out of the trio, I think Aguerd has the most to prove, and I will be watching him closely for the remainder of the season.