Lucas Paqueta has taken the sting out of Declan Rice’s certain departure from West Ham.
The Brazilian midfielder has been a growing presence in the midfield over the past few weeks. Crucially we saw him at his near best in the Conference final against Fiorentina.
His eye of the needle pass for Jarrod Bowen’s last gasp winner – despite the Fergie time that followed – was the mark of a true champion and brought back memories to us old timers of the magnificent Alan Devonshire at his best.
We were told on Paqueta’s arrival that this was a star who would set the club alight. It has taken time but with that one glorious pass. through the heart of the Italian defence. he paid back an almighty chunk of his £50 million transfer fee.
Declan will be badly missed as a presence but Paqueta is not frightened to get involved in the dirty midfield work amid all his trickery and although he is no replacement as such he is a truly inspirational player who can take on the mantle left behind.
Declan barely misses a tackle and is a great passer and goal scorer at times. Lucas battles hard for possession, has as good passing ability as he showed in the Final. He also scored four Premier League goals and one in the Conference from January onwards.
That’s pretty good going for a player who has never seen the Premier League before and his rapid progress augurs more than well for the squad next season and beyond.
It also means that what we may now need at the back is no more than a straightforward defensive midfielder.
In high demand
And the one I am thinking of is relegated Southampton’s brilliant 19 year old central midfielder Romeo Lavia. He was the Saints best player last season following his move from Manchester City.
He will definitely cost a few bob as he has a contract until 2027. Regardless of that we need to be quick off the mark with Chelsea and Newcastle interested.