According to reports from Sky Sports, West Ham are in talks with Sampdoria over the potential sale of Pedro Obiang. The Hammers actually purchased the former Spain U21 from the Italian outfit in summer 2015, Obiang going on to make 87 appearances across all competitions, but it appears the Irons are now willing to let him return there with the two clubs reportedly discussing an £8.9million fee.
Obiang’s a bit of a cult hero in east London and some sections of Irons fans will be disappointed to see him leave. But could there be unforeseen benefits to the 26-year-old departing this summer? Football FanCast look at the possible consequences – some good, some bad – of a potential exit…
With Mark Noble, Chiekhou Kouyate and Jack Wilshere the only remaining proven central midfielders at the club, selling Obiang would leave West Ham a little short of bodies in the middle of the park. But for promising youngster Declan Rice, that could well prove to be a blessing, providing a path back into the starting XI that has recently been blocked by a raft of summer arrivals.
Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena have both been brought in this summer while Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid are part of the first team, suggesting Rice now finds himself some way down the pecking order at centre-half – even if the New Zealand international has been ruled out for the opening weeks of the campaign.
But Rice can play in defensive midfield as well and although it’s probably not his strongest position – it makes far more sense to be a defender comfortable on the ball than a midfielder who’s average at best in possession – it could be enough to appease him during his first season under Pellegrini, which may prove incredibly important in finally agreeing a contract extension with the highly-rated 19-year-old.
West Ham’s summer transfer budget is surely pretty much maxed out at this point, after spending big on the likes of Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Diop – with roughly £75million coughed up for those three alone.
But cashing in on Obiang should free up some more funds to help get a last-minute swoop over the line. Sky Sports reckon the potential deal for the Spaniard will be worth £8.9million – slightly more than his £7.2million value according to Transfermarkt – and although that kind of money would hardly make a dent in the current transfer market, it will be a useful sum if West Ham can add to it with other departures – Robert Snodgrass, Sam Byram and Michail Antonio are surely all candidates for the scrapheap as well.
If the Irons can shift those players in the coming weeks, they could generate enough cash to make an eighth summer signing.
Sky Sports reported earlier this month that West Ham are willing to listen to offers for both Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate, however it seems incredibly unlikely both players would be allowed to leave the club during the same transfer window without any obvious replacements lined up. Not only are they both central midfielders, but they’re also a very similar kind of central midfielder – protruding athleticism, energy and defensive anticipation over style and flair.
Even bearing in mind the expectation for Pellegrini to use a two-man engine room on the most part this season, selling both Kouyate and Obiang this summer could prove incredibly short-sighted. For starters, there’s no guarantee a two-man midfield will work for the Hammers and, perhaps more importantly, a pairing of just Wilshere and Noble would be easily overpowered by most of the engine rooms in the Premier League.