Why West Ham should look at Stanislav Lobotka to bolster midfield
Back in January earlier this year, a report from The Sun claimed that West Ham were interested in signing Slovakian international midfielder Stanislav Lobotka from Spanish side Celta Vigo. It had been claimed that the Hammers were looking to hijack Napoli’s bid for the 26-year-old but he eventually ended up completing a move to the Serie A.
Stanislav Lobotka started his professional career with AS Trencin in Slovakia and went on to feature 86 times for his boyhood club over five seasons. He completed a move to Nordsjaelland in 2015 and earned rave reviews for his performances in the Danish top-flight. Lobotka’s growing reputation was rewarded with a move to La Liga club Celta Vigo in 2017.
The 26-year-old made a big impression in Spain, registering 90 appearances for Celta Vigo over two-and-a-half seasons. Lobotka joined Napoli for a fee of around £21.5million in January 2020 but has struggled to establish himself as a regular starter under Gennaro Gattuso.
Having made 14 appearances for the Partenopei in the Serie A during the second half of last season, Lobotka is yet to start a single league fixture for the club so far this term.
Lobotka would add more depth to the Hammers’ midfield
West Ham have relied heavily on the likes of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek as their first-choice pairing in central midfield. Both players have been in impressive form this season and have contributed greatly to the Hammers’ flying start to the campaign under David Moyes.
However, the lack of quality alternatives in that department remains a pressing concern for the manager. Mark Noble and Robert Snodgrass are the only feasible back-ups available at Moyes’ disposal. With both players already 33 and nearing the end of their respective contracts next summer, West Ham should have one eye on replacements.
The Hammers have parted ways with the likes of Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere and Pedro Obiang in recent windows without really bringing in adequate replacements. That further explains the club’s lack of depth in the middle of the park. Putting things into context, a potential deal for Stanislav Lobotka in January would go a long way towards bolstering their ranks.
The Slovakian international has struggled for game time at Napoli but his past exploits at Celta Vigo in the La Liga prove that he’s capable of thriving in the elite leagues. Lobotka doesn’t really have an eye-catching tally of goals and assists in his career but his profile as an experienced and hardworking defensive midfielder should still make him an excellent fit at the London Stadium.
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With Lobotka currently down the pecking order at Napoli, West Ham should use the opportunity to lure him to East London with the promise of regular game time in the Premier League. At 26, he still potentially has his best years ahead of him. Having said that, the Hammers shouldn’t hesitate to splash the cash on the Slovakian enforcer next month.