West Ham Opinion: Franck Kessie could prove to be the missing link in Hammers’ midfield
According to the Calciomercato, West Ham are interested in signing Ivorian international midfielder Franck Kessie from AC Milan, with north London giants Arsenal and Spurs also weighing up a move for the talented 22-year-old.
Kessie has been an ever-present in AC Milan’s midfield under Gennaro Gattuso this season and has earned rave reviews for his consistently impressive performances in the middle of the park. The 22-year-old has made a total of 32 appearances for the Rossoneri in the Serie A this term, contributing with 5 goals and an assist from central midfield.
The Ivory Coast international rose through the youth ranks at Atalanta and had a loan spell at Cesena in the Serie A before cementing his place in the first-team.
As a result of his fine performances at Atalanta in his debut season, Milan came calling for his services and Kessie made his move to the San Siro on a two-season loan deal with an obligation to buy.
Kessie made an immediate impact at Milan and quickly established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet under Gattuso.
He scored 5 goals last season in the Serie A and has already equalled that tally in the current campaign. In all competitions till date, the 22-year-old has made a total of 94 appearances for the Serie A giants, scoring 10 goals and setting up another 8.
A tenacious, hardworking, tough-tackling and all-action midfielder noted for strength, stamina, drive and determination, Kessie is capable of playing both holding and box-to-box roles in the middle of the park.
Blessed with a decent technique, Kessie is calm and composed in possession and has the range of passing to dictate the play, while his determination to win possession back for his team with crucial tackles and interceptions make him a very useful player to have in the midfield.
The Ivorian covers every blade of grass on the pitch and is more than capable of shouldering both defensive and attacking duties.
The 22-year-old is a powerful and dominant presence in the midfield and he has the potential to destroy any opposition on a given day. He not only holds things together with his short passing game but he is also equally adept at making late runs into the box to score crucial goals.
In other words, Kessie is the sort of player who ensures cohesion in the midfield and acts as the link between the midfield and the forward line by allowing the more attacking players to play their natural game.
To put things into perspective, Kessie has a wonderful profile for a player of his age, with the Ivorian boasting of more than 150 senior competitive appearances in Italian football already.
The Hammers need to bring in a few fresh faces in the summer to plug the holes in their squad and Kessie could well be the answer to their central midfield woes.
The Hammers have relied heavily on the likes of veteran Mark Noble and youngster Declan Rice to provide steel and substance to the midfield. Both the players have played their part reasonably well but the Hammers should keep in mind that Noble is not the same midfield engine that he was back in his youthful days.
Pedro Obiang and Carlos Sanchez have both struggled for form and fitness and it doesn’t look like either of them has a future at the London Stadium. Moreover, the cohesion and the link between the forward line and the midfield has often gone missing in West Ham’s game this season and Kessie could prove to be that missing link.
In fact, someone like Kessie could prove to be an upgrade on all of West Ham’s existing midfield options. Given that Rice has heavily been linked with a move to the top-six clubs, the Hammers should prioritise signing the 22-year-old to maintain the perfect balance in their squad.
They do need to invest in other areas as well but the acquisition of Kessie might solve a big problem in a key area for manager Manuel Pellegrini.
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In Pellegrini, West Ham have a Premier League winning manager and his potential just cannot be wasted away at east London. Hence, the Hammers need to target some top-quality players to make a surge for a European spot next season and Kessie is exactly the kind of player they should be looking at.
Unlike Spurs or Arsenal, West Ham cannot offer him Champions League football but assurances of regular first-team action should be enough to lure the Ivorian to east London.