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West Ham need to sign Joao Mario permanently this summer

Reports suggest the Portuguese international has a £24 million price-tag.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

West Ham United can now look forward to another season of Premier League football after their impressive away victory over Leicester City and the planning for the summer will be underway.

It will be important to recruit well and build a team that can push for a top-half finish. The supporters won’t accept another relegation battle and it is evident that big changes need to be made if the club is to progress in the right direction.

One of the first items on the summer agenda will be to sign Joao Mario to a permanent contract. The midfielder has impressed during his loan spell from Inter Milan and there will be a desire to extend his stay at the London Stadium.

Should they wish to do so, Calcio Mercato have suggested that the Hammers can sign Mario from Inter for £24 million in the summer.

The Portuguese international has slotted in as one of the attacking midfielders behind Marko Arnautovic and has quickly emerged as one of the better players in the team.

In his eleven matches, he has scored two goals and contributed one assist, which is a good return considering he is adapting to a new league.

(Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Against Leicester City at the weekend, he was one of the standout performers and showed his quality as the team battled to mathematical safety.

He got the opening goal thanks to some intelligent movement and a nice finish. It was an important strike and provided confidence for the performance that followed.

It was a surprise when West Ham signed Mario as it wasn’t long ago that the midfielder joined Inter Milan for an eye-watering fee, but he didn’t fit in at the club and the Hammers pounced when the opportunity arose.

This past weekend, he showed his ability in both halves of the pitch. In addition to his goal, he made three key passes and linked up well with Arnautovic and Lanzini.

Moyes has established a formation that allows for a fluid front three and their interchanging in the attacking half can be difficult to deal with.

Although he is played in an advanced role, he has defensive responsibilities and he carries those out well.

Mario completed two tackles and made three interceptions to show his work rate and ball-winning ability. He covers a lot of ground and his energy is a welcome addition to what was a laboured West Ham midfield during the first half of the season.

(Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

His performances have improved over time and he looks set to finish with a flourish this season.

The World Cup will be in his thoughts and he will have played his way into the thinking of the Portugal manager.

Since Euro 2016, he has tested himself in Italy and England. Mario may not have found his permanent home yet, but he will be stronger for the experiences he has endured.

West Ham are one of the bigger clubs outside of the top six and they will want to progress into a top ten force over the coming seasons. Their aims should be to challenge for Europe and win a domestic cup competition.

If they are to be successful in that, they need to sign players like Mario. He is an established international midfielder who has already proven he can do well for the Hammers.

His permanent signing should be a priority this summer.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

West Ham United

Three key takeaways from Pellegrini’s West Ham press conference

The Hammers are looking for a result after defeat last weekend.

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Manuel Pellegrini takes charge of his first West Ham home match this weekend, with the Hammers welcoming Bournemouth to the London Stadium.

The east London side were dismantled by Liverpool on the opening weekend, suffering a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool that left the heavy-spenders rooted to the bottom of the Premier League at the very, very early stage of the campaign.

Improvements are needed for the hosting of Bournemouth, who beat Cardiff City last weekend, and we have identified three key takeaways from Pellegrini’s pre-match press conference.

Injury update

West Ham need all the good news they can get their hands on after last week’s mauling at the hands of Liverpool and Manuel Pellegrini has provided that. While his comments are as you expect, naming the three long-term absentees, it’s what he doesn’t say that is interesting.

Fans will notice that Aaron Cresswell is not mentioned, suggesting that the experienced full-back will be available for selection after not being risked for the defeat to Liverpool due to fitness concerns – and he could therefore come into the side to replace Arthur Masuaku.

“We have no new injury news. The same three players – Andy Carroll, Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini are still out, but all the others are OK.”

Howe praise

Eddie Howe became the darling of English football after he led Bournemouth to the Premier League and kept the Cherries in the top-flight. While that love affair may have come to a close, with the club crashing back down to earth, he still earns plenty of praise.

Pellegrini has spoken highly of his competitor ahead of the hosting of Bournemouth and he may need to be careful, as Howe is the sort of manager West Ham should probably look towards if things do not work out well under the Chilean boss.

“Eddie Howe has done very well. He’s a very good manager and keeping them in the Premier League in that first season was a very good job. They have been there a number of years now and he’s doing very well.”

Fan patience

Asking fans to be patient is usually the kiss of depth and Manuel Pellegrini avoided using those specific words during his pre-match press conference. However, he did make it clear that it will take time for the dust to settle after a frantic summer window.

Fans will want a positive result at the London Stadium this weekend but the Hammers enter the match with a newly assembled squad still learning the ropes, many of whom are in the Premier League for the first time, while the majority of Bournemouth’s squad is well accustomed to the rigours of English football – many of whom have been with the club for a while.

“I hope our fans can understand that this is our first game at home but we are continuing to work with the squad. I don’t think we will have any problem with the fans.”

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West Ham round-up: Carroll update, Silva shines & Spurs stadium share

A selection of news and gossip from West Ham.

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Photo: Getty Images

Christmas Carroll

In an update that cues the most obvious pun in the history of football, Claret & Hugh state that forgotten striker Andy Carroll is expected to return to first-team action before the festive season – ahead of defender Winston Reid.

Carroll’s latest injury setback may have seen him tumble down the pecking order at the club as Manuel Pellegrini moved to sign Felipe Anderson and Lucas Perez in the transfer window, both of whom could play centrally as an alternative to Javier Hernandez.

It is positive for the Hammers though, as Carroll returning before January means there is a chance he could be offloaded in the mid-season window.

Spurs at the London Stadium

In what could be the most least popular pieces of news to ever break in east London, WestHamFans.org understand that Tottenham Hotspur have requested to play their clash against Manchester City on 28th October at West Ham‘s stadium.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The Lilywhites’ planned move to a new stadium has proven to be a shambles, with delays meaning that Spurs will have to remain at Wembley for longer than initially planned – with home clashes against Liverpool and Cardiff City being moved to the home of English football, as well as the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders.

Given all the technicalities in West Ham’s agreement with the stadium, they do not actually own the ground and it is not their decision on what happens with Spurs. However, they would at least have to give their consent.

Silva lining

With all the summer deals that went on concerning West Ham, one that slipped under the radar for many was the capture of 21-year-old Portuguese striker Xande Silva – who has proven to be an instant hit in east London.

Making his debut for the U23 side this week, Silva netted a six-minute hat-trick to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Tottenham and helped his side secure a 3-1 win. That has naturally led to plenty of praise for the young forward, including from academy chief Terry Westley.

“He is a very powerful striker and he will be given the season to settle in  – it’s down to him what sort of impact he can make at the higher level but he has made a seriously good start. Fair to say we really like the look of him!”

– Westley praised Silva in comments made to Claret & Hugh.

Eyes on Azah

The transfer window may be closed but that does not mean West Ham’s activity in the market is over, as the Hammers are named as one of many sides interested in the services of Irish youngster Elvis Azah by The Daily Mail.

Azah caught the eye after spending pre-season with Cardiff City, scoring in a U18 match against West Ham, and is also being chased by Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool after earning Irish citizenship – enabling him to move to England.

Born in Ghana, the 17-year-old winger is capable of playing on either flank or in a more advanced central role.

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Pellegrini would be making a mistake dropping Rice for Sanchez

The youngster should be one of the first names on the teamsheet.

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West Ham‘s spell under Manuel Pellegrini did not get off to the best of starts on Sunday and Declan Rice could suffer as a result.

The Hammers were torn apart by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in a 4-0 defeat, with Pellegrini’s squad full of new recruits struggling to hit their top gear at Anfield.

The Chilean boss spent heavily in the summer to rejuvenate his squad at the London Stadium and further changes to his side are expected ahead of this weekend’s hosting of Bournemouth, as he seeks to secure a first win with the club.

(Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images)

However, it is concerning that reports from Claret & Hugh suggest that Pellegrini is mulling over dropping Declan Rice for Carlos Sanchez, who was signed from Fiorentina last week for a fee of £4m – a decision that could have lasting consequences that the club will be desperate to avoid.

19-year-old Rice was one of few shining lights for the Hammers in last season’s disappointing campaign, earning 26 Premier League appearances in his breakthrough year and showing signs that he could become a long-term asset for the club.

Now capped at senior level for the Republic of Ireland, Rice will be looking for continued first-team opportunities to help him cement his spot in Martin O’Niell’s side for the long-term and being dropped for a new recruit could be damaging.

“It’s a new manager coming in and I think everyone has got a fresh start under him. I can’t wait to show him what I’m about and what I can do. I played 32 or 33 times last year and I want to carry on this year. I want to keep playing games and keep improving and learning.”

– Rice made his plans for the season clear in July.

Rice has already seen competition for a spot in the heart of the defence increase significantly following the signings of Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop but his versatility proved to be decisive last weekend, as he started the game at Anfield.

Visibly furious to be subbed off at half-time, West Ham need to be very careful with the situation as they have been unable to agree on a new long-term deal with Rice despite negotiations taking place throughout the summer.

With his current deal expiring next summer, Rice could continue to snub new offers if he does not continue to earn first-team opportunities and it would see the young defender become the latest in a long line of Hammers starlets to seek a move elsewhere.

Pellegrini’s side were already forced to offload Domingos Quina to Premier League rivals Watford last week after the Portuguese ace entered the final year of his deal, and Reece Oxford is widely linked with a move abroad after impressing on loan with Borussia Monchengladbach last season.

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