This article is part of Football FanCast’s Loan Watch series, which takes a closer look at those players who are aiming to galvanise their careers away from the spotlight of their parent club.
Grady Diangana burst onto the scene last season and played his way into Manuel Pellegrini’s thoughts, impressing the Chilean enough to make 21 appearances.
Over the summer West Ham bolstered their attacking options with the addition of Pablo Fornals, whilst the return from injury of Andriy Yarmolenko meant Diangana would have found his game time limited had he satyed.
Instead, he chose to go on loan and play under Slaven Bilic, and it has so far proved to be an inspired decision.
Bilic would have been aware of the winger from his time in East London and the pair have proved a suitable match for one another, with the 21-year-old not taking long to make an impression at the Hawthorns.
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He has three goals in six league games, but his trickery and eye for a pass – best evidenced when he assisted Matt Phillips’ second goal against Huddersfield in late September – shows that he is a well-rounded winger.
As alluded to, the Hammers currently have a plethora of wide players to choose from, and Yarmolenko has made the right-wing spot his own in recent weeks, with Felipe Anderson a mainstay on the left.
However, one man who finds his place in the squad under even more pressure due to Diangana’s form is Michail Antonio.
The 29-year-old has had mixed fortunes since signing in 2014 and injuries have limited his impact in recent years, and since they look likely to persist it is possible that Diangana could be his long-term successor.
He may be playing in a lower division, but the Hammers academy graduate has two assists to show for his average of 1.6 key passes per game so far, which shows he is a winger who looks to get the best out of his teammates as well as going trying to find the net himself.
Added to that, he has proved a constant menace to Championship backlines with 2.5 successful dribbles per game and a pass accuracy of 81%, a respectable return for a player who spends a lot of time in the opposition final third.
He still has a lot to learn, but a year of regular game time should aid that.
In particular, his average of 0.5 successful crosses per game leaves a lot to be desired, and until he can raise his consistency in the final third he could remain on the fringes at West Ham.
Despite that, he has good coaches and teammates to learn from at the Hammers, so it may not be long until he pushes both Antonio and Yarmolenko out of the side.