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HomePremier LeagueFour issues for Julen Lopetegui to address at West Ham

Four issues for Julen Lopetegui to address at West Ham

Julen Lopetegui will take charge of West Ham United in the summer as the Irons head in a new direction.

The East Londoners have confirmed that David Moyes will leave his role at the end of the current campaign with West Ham wanting a fresh approach. Lopetegui will return to the Premier League after a short stint at Wolves and boasts an impressive résumé after spells with Real Madrid and Spain, and Europa League success with Sevilla.

Ahead of his arrival at the London Stadium, we’ve looked at the key issues Lopetegui must address at West Ham.

Sign a centre-forward

Centre-forward has long been a problem position for West Ham, with big-money additions having failed to work out as hoped.

Since losing Marko Arnautović in 2019, West Ham have predominantly used Michail Antonio at number nine. Antonio has been a fine servant for the Hammers with his all-action style and presence well appreciated, but at 34 and with recurring fitness issues his best football appears behind him.

The veteran has scored just 11 league goals across the last two seasons and a long-term replacement should be top of West Ham’s focus for the summer transfer window.

After marquee arrivals including Gianluca Scamacca and Sebastien Haller failed to succeed, West Ham need alignment between board and manager when it comes to investing in a new number nine. Ivan Toney, keen to quit Brentford in the summer, has been linked.

Identify a Declan Rice replacement

West Ham brought in a £105m fee for Declan Rice in the summer, a record sum reinvested into James Ward-Prowse, Edson Alvarez and Mohammed Kudus. While that trio of talents have improved the depth at the London Stadium, the departure of Rice is still being felt.

Moyes rejected the recommendation of technical director Tim Steidten for an athletic midfield presence to replace Rice, preferring instead to sign Ward-Prowse from Southampton. The 29-year-old’s set-piece excellence has brought 12 assists in all competitions, though Ward-Prowse lacks the defensive game of his predecessor and West Ham have become easier to play against as a result.

Edson Alvarez has impressed since arriving from Ajax but lacks the capabilities of Rice to eat up the ground and cover large spaces defensively. An addition with athleticism should be sought in the summer.

Fix defensive issues

The arrival of an athletic midfield presence could contribute to solving the leakiness that has plagued West Ham this summer. David Moyes has often prided himself on the solidity of his sides, though it has been absent for much of the current campaign.

West Ham have conceded 70 goals in the Premier League this season, the highest number of any team outside the relegation places. Only Sheffield United and Manchester United have averaged a higher number of shots conceded per game (17.2) and their expected goals against (73.99) is better than only the already-relegated Blades and Luton.

It’s the joint-most goals West Ham have ever conceded in a Premier League season, with the other occasion in 2010/11 when the club finished bottom of the division.

Sort futures of unsettled stars quickly

Recent reports have suggested some stars are unhappy at the London Stadium, with Lucas Paqueta, Edson Alvarez and Mohammed Kudus all claimed to be unsettled. Though speculation at this stage, West Ham will want the issue addressed quickly if the rumours emerge as genuine.

Paqueta saw a move to Manchester City collapse last summer and the Premier League champions are understood to remain keen. The Brazil international is a top talent, though his form has nosedived over the second half of the campaign. A fee over £80m would provide significant funds to reinvest in a side in Lopetegui’s image.

Kudus, who leads the league for take-ons, has a release clause in his contract.

Read – Premier League race for Europe assessed ahead of decisive final fortnight

See more – Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

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