So at long last the Hammers have managed to get some extra help into their squad with the arrival of Joao Mario from Inter Milan on loan until the end of the season. The signing is being hailed as a major boost in David Moyes' efforts to stabilise the club as a Premiership outfit and, all going well, Mario may stay thereafter as we hopefully look towards becoming a major force in the League.
Mario is an experienced Portuguese international and has a winners medal from their 2016 triumph at the Euros. In the aftermath of that, he moved from our old mates Sporting Lisbon to Inter for E40 million. He had a decent first season at Inter making 33 appearances with three goals and eight assists. However, this season he has struggled and has been in and out of the team, spending much time as a substitute. Indeed, his 14 appearances this season include 9 as a substitute. The arrival of Rafinha from Barcelona has persuaded him to move to where he can get first team action as it is a World Cup year.
So what does Moyes see in him? He sounds VERY like Pedro Obiang, which means he is probably going to push young Declan Rice further down the rankings for game time. In fact, although we typically think of swashbuckling surges forward when we picture Cheik Kouyate, this season the Senegalese has been much more conservative in his role and, in many respects, has provided a defensive midfield role.
Mario is technically gifted and can hold onto the ball - qualities that a team that frequently concedes 65% plus of the possession will benefit from. He has almost 90% pass accuracy but he is otherwise quite conservative - energetic but not especially pacey or creative (no goals and just 3 assists all season). The Hammers really need another creative and attack-minded midfielder. Hmmm.
We linked in with Italian contacts who follow to Inter to check out their feelings on his move - the responses were lukewarm and included "not sure that he is a top player. May be that in a less demanding team he would perform better" and "Speed is not his primary characteristic, but I think he will compensate with organization and geometry".
Hmmm. It seems they are a little underwhelmed. In reality, any player who is looking to move in January will have similar baggage with them. Let's hope he finds the Premiership to his liking and maybe will free up Cheik Kouyate to recover his old swashbuckling swagger!
Maybe we will get a viewing against Palace on Tuesday?