After a long and drawn out negotiation process, at times looking like the deal was dead in the water, Felipe Anderson has just about completed a £40 million move to West Ham United from Lazio.
The Brazilian started his senior career at Santos, playing alongside now world-renowned superstar Neymar for a few seasons, with the two forming a close bond during their time together.
While starting slowly, Anderson has impressed during his time in Italy. He has been linked numerous times with top European clubs, and before a major knee injury at the end of July 2017 curtailed his playing time, he was heavily linked to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Inter Milan.
It is safe to say that nobody has looked to West Ham recently as an example of a wise and well-managed transfer policy.
This is the club that thought Joe Hart would be the perfect first-choice keeper, they also signed a wonderful defender in Jose Fonte only to find out he was actually already in his thirties and on the decline and tied perennially injured Andy Carroll down to such a huge contract that he has become impossible to sell.
This summer however, has been somewhat more promising. Felipe Anderson’s arrival should delight the West Ham fans and here is why.
Felipe Anderson’s strongest element is his speed and direct nature. He has the attributes of a top winger and has consistently been either at the top or near it for most successful dribbles per game in the Serie A (top last season and the season before, third in 2014/2015).
He loses the ball more than most players as well, having been dispossessed on average 2.2 times per game. But then so does his former teammate Neymar, and both are capable of absolute game-changing moments.
Anderson is of course not as consistent as the Paris Saint Germain star, but this is an exciting signing for The Hammers.
West Ham are a team that needed to add pace to their frontline. Aside from Marko Arnautovic and Michael Antonio, who spent most of last season injured, West Ham’s attack can be laboured and slow. Pellegrini is clearly looking to add speed to his team, and not many players are better for that than Felipe Anderson.
He can be better than he showed last season
Felipe Anderson was not as key to Lazio’s season as he may have hoped, due in part to a serious knee injury he suffered in pre-season and a falling out with Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi on his return, which meant he only started nine Serie A games and only played just over 1000 minutes.
But it is worth looking at his contributions in the games he played in. Having made peace with Inzaghi, he managed four goals and seven assists in the league which translates to one every 104 minutes. He looked impressive in the Europa League too, managing three goals and three assists and having two particularly good games against FCS Bucharest and Dynamo Kyiv.
Last season was certainly troubled for Anderson, and the falling out with Inzaghi perhaps hints at some issues with the player’s attitudes. Conversely, it can be argued that his apology to the manager and successful return to the team hints towards a growing maturity for the Brazilian.
But his time spent on the pitch was, for the most part, positive. Limited though it may have been, this has to be a good sign for West Ham.
To say Felipe Anderson is comfortable on both sides of the pitch is an understatement. Many players who are labelled this often still favour one side, yet for Lazio Anderson has played almost the same amount of games on either wing (52 on the right, 44 on the left).
He has also played quite a few games as a secondary striker and number 10, and his talent for long-range shooting and close control makes him a good fit for any position along the frontline. It will certainly help him to get a game at West Ham and makes him an incredibly gifted stopgap in times of injury crises.
Will need time to settle
If past experience is anything to go by, Felipe Anderson will need some time, perhaps out of the first team even, to settle into a new life in London. His start in Italy was extremely difficult, encapsulated by his admittance that he gained a lot of weight at first because all he knew how to order was spaghetti carbonara.
Perhaps he may at first struggle to adapt to his new surroundings and may need help from the club to help him find his feet (or at least a personal chef).
These off-field struggles translated to his football, and he took 25 games to score his first goal for Lazio. He also has the occasional tendency to find himself in a barren goalless run, being the confidence player that he is.
This is undoubtedly the biggest worry about this signing. Felipe Anderson is a confidence-based player and the fans and manager may need to be patient with him. Unfortunately, and somewhat understandably given previous transfer dealings and the general behaviour of the club owners, West Ham fans do not have a lot of patience left to give.
But if they understand that this is a player that will need time to settle and that he may not hit the ground running immediately and if Pellegrini gives him the care and time required, this is a player that will flourish.
He may not be as consistent as his former teammate and friend Neymar. Very few players are. But when Anderson is confident, and when he feels content, there are not many players in the world better at what he does.
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