West Ham United kickstart their Premier League campaign later this afternoon as David Moyes and co will be looking to build on their phenomenal sixth-place finish.
And the Scot has plenty to ponder in terms of team selection, particularly as he’s only been able to secure the one senior addition in the transfer market, in the form of Paris Saint-Germain backup goalkeeper, Alphonse Areola.
The Hammers head to Tyneside to face Newcastle United at St James’ Park for their opener, in what can only be described as the battle of the threadbare squads.
Steve Bruce has only secured the one signing, too. They also look particularly weak for strength in depth across the pitch.
However, in the absence of loan sensation Jesse Lingard, Moyes will need to find a solution to the likely creative and goalscoring void left behind… enter, Said Benrahma.
After signing in a £30m deal from Brentford last summer, the Algerian winger would go onto have a frustrating season in and out of Moyes’ starting XI.
Indeed, the 26-year-old dynamo notched 36 appearances in all competitions but only 14 of these were starts in the Premier League, and despite that, he still managed to provide one goal and six assists in the big time, as per Transfermarkt.
Benrahma was one of the Moyes’ most creative options, nonetheless – via WhoScored, he averaged 1.7 key passes per 90 minutes, which actually outranked Lingard, who managed 1.1 key passes per 90.
With Bruce dealing with a number of defensive injury worries, particularly between the sticks, a player of Benrahma’s quality could well be exactly what the 58-year-old needs to get a result from this encounter.
The £18m-rated playmaker, who has been lauded as an “undoubted talent” by The Sun journalist Justin Allen and a “true magician” by former OGC Nice teammate Lorenzo Vinci in the past, has a great chance to prove a point if selected.
He’s been lighting up pre-season, scoring against Celtic and his former club, Brentford, as well as providing two assists in their final friendly against Atalanta last weekend.
The wing maestro is in red hot form going into the season, so Moyes has to unleash him from the off up in the northeast today.
On his day, Benrahma is simply “unplayable“, as once described by ex-Hammer Danny Gabbidon. He will offer the side the sort of pace, skills and trickery that no one else can.
He could be the Irons’ game-changer against the Magpies. He has to start.