After a standout campaign for Championship playoff winners Fulham, Ryan Fredericks has garnered interest from both West Ham and Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
With his contract expiring in the summer and the 25-year-old reluctant to sign a new deal unless he was made top earner -currently club captain Tom Cairney on roughly £40,000 p/w- Manuel Pellegrini is confident he can land his first signing of his tenure at the London Stadium.
Despite formerly playing for Tottenham's academy, Fredericks has never made a top-flight appearance, joining Bristol City in 2015.
An attacking threat
Whilst the free signing of Pablo Zabaleta last summer was a useful addition in terms of adding experience and leadership to the squad, it's become evident that he's perhaps slightly over the hill in terms of suitability to the Premier League, especially for the dynamic, attack-minded side Pellegrini looks to create in East London.
Offensively, Fredericks is a strong improvement on Zabaleta. The Fulham right back created 37 chances -a vast upgrade on Zabaleta's 17-, whilst assisting six goals compared to the Argentine's one. The 25-year-old, similarly, dwarfs Zabaleta's completed take-ons by a difference of 58.
Fredericks' background, moreover, is rooted in a possession-based Fulham side, hence completing near double as many passes (1305) as Zabaleta (776). A player with an affinity for possession will aid in West Ham's transition to this style of football.
Coupled with his attacking threat, Fredericks possesses great pace and would, therefore, be ideally suited to a five-man defence as a right wingback, able to control both ends of the right flank in a way Zabaleta no longer can.
Strengthening the defence
Despite interest in Lazio's Felipe Anderson, Pellegrini's priority is to strengthen a defence that shipped 68 goals last season. Fredericks will certainly aid in resolving this.
His Fulham side conceded 46 goals in the Championship, at a rate of one goal per game, superior to the Hammers' 2017/18 record of 1.78 goals per game.
|Pablo Zabaleta||Ryan Fredericks|
|Aerial duels won||50||31|
Whilst Zabaleta's defensive statistics are more impressive than Fredericks', this can be explained by the fact that West Ham enjoyed far less possession (46.5%) over the course of the season than Fulham (57.8%).
Essentially, they played on the back foot, whilst Fulham actively dominated the ball, hence resulting in less defending overall.
Overall, though, despite Zabaleta completing more defensive actions, Fredericks was more successful (51.73%) in his attempted duels -tackles, aerial duels and take-ons- than Zabaleta (45.48%).
Moreover, Fredericks lost fewer attempted tackles (66), than the Argentine (92), therefore winning a larger percentage of those attempted than Zabaleta, demonstrating the improvement on defensive decision-making he provides. Clearly, he knew when and when not to go to ground.
RealSport verdict: Ryan Fredericks
Therefore, this is a step in the right direction for Pellegrini's West Ham.
Not only does Fredericks provide an attacking impetus from defence, he's right back well-versed in possession-based attacking football that won't compromise defensive solidity.