Before the Hammers were struck down with a series of testing injuries to first team players in recent weeks, Slaven Bilic’s new side had certainly begun the 2015/16 campaign in rather admirable form.
A number of underwhelming results may have admittedly cropped up against some of the Premier League’s so-called ‘lesser’ sides across the season so far – but as West Ham successfully saw off the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea before December, the majority of the Upton Park faithful had very little to complain about.
However, one man who just hasn’t managed to impress down at the Boleyn Ground this term arrives in the form of current Arsenal loanee – Carl Jenkinson. For one reason or another, the 23-year-old Englishman has seemingly failed to build upon his decent debut season in east London since Slaven Bilic has been installed as the club’s new manager.
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So then, now that Lille’s up and coming 19-year-old right-back – Benjamin Pavard – has subsequently been linked with the Hammers in the run up to the January transfer window, must West Ham simply look to replace the struggling Jenkinson with this latest transfer target?
Although the young French defender has admittedly only started five league games for Lille this season, Pavard nonetheless arrives as someone with a decent amount of potential.
Ligue 1 has certainly proved rather fruitful for the Hammers in the transfer market before of course, as both Dimitri Payet and Diafra Sakho were signed from Olympique de Marseille and FC Metz respectively in recent windows.
The emerging talent has since drawn praise for his ability to work possession calmly out from the back. Pavard also displays a sharp quality when working the flanks in an effective manner for someone of his overall skill-set – as well as providing Frederic Antonetti’s team with a fair degree of versatility across his desired back-four. With West Ham looking somewhat weak in the full-back department this term, such a welcome addition could potentially work wonders for the Hammers at some stage down the line.
The signing of Benjamin Pavard could be seen as a massive gamble should Slaven Bilic drop him straight in the deep end, but as Carl Jenkinson has arguably gone down as the Hammers’ most consistently poor performer so far in 2015/16 – maybe Pavard wouldn’t represent such a questionable option after all.
Despite partially thriving under Sam Allardyce at Upton Park last season, Jenkinson’s overall game has seemingly come undone under the updated style and philosophy employed by the new West Ham boss. When it comes to displaying vital composure at the back when the going gets tough, the on loan Arsenal man has simply failed to do the business.
His positional awareness has been sloppy at the best of times, Jenkinson’s crossing ability has also been thrown into doubt of late, and as James Tomkins has actually turned West Ham into a much more organised outfit when utilized as right-back for the Hammers – the 23-year-old defender’s future at Upton Park remains far from certain.
In the end, Arsenal will simply be kidding themselves if they believe Carl Jenkinson to be good enough for their starting XI next season. For all the hard work and endeavour he reliably displays out on the pitch, his distinct lack of technical ability ultimately serves to hold him back when push comes to shove.
So although Benjamin Pavard isn’t exactly the most established defender currently operating in Ligue 1 at the moment, Slaven Bilic should at least consider his services this January if West Ham are to improve as an all-round collective unit.