West Ham United appear to have missed out on signing David Moyes’ natural heir to Manuel Lanzini, after failing to secure a deal with Cagliari for their Uruguayan playmaker Nahitan Nandez this summer.
The Hammers were touted as one of two potential destinations for Nandez in the Premier League by La Gazzetta dello Sport, via TransferMarketWEB, earlier in the year, when the Italian outlet claimed the 24-year-old could depart the Sardegna Arena if his €36million (£32.6m) release clause was met in full.
Nandez was lured to Italy last year from Boca Juniors on a contract running until 2024, and impressed in his debut season under Rolando Maran and later Walter Zenga with two goals and four assists to spark transfer interest from Inter Milan, AS Roma and SSC Napoli alongside West Ham and Crystal Palace.
The Punta del Este-born creator is yet to get off the mark for either goals or assists under new Cagliari boss Eusebio Di Francesco, who has called on Nandez to start each of his side’s three Serie A fixtures held prior to the international break.
But Nandez displayed the skill that set West Ham up to track his situation this summer in Uruguay’s win over Chile on Thursday night, despite entering the action with just 34 minutes left on the clock to earn a 32nd international cap.
Substitute and one-time West Ham target Maxi Gomez secured the win for Uruguay in the third minute of stoppage-time, after former Manchester United and Arsenal winger Alexis Sanchez slid an angled effort into the net to counter Luis Suarez’s first-half opener.
Nandez had to wait until the second-half to enter the action when he eventually replaced River Plate’s Nicolas De la Cruz, but provided a constant outlet for Uruguay once on with 26 touches and 15 completed passes from 17 attempts for one key ball, per SofaScore.
The 5 ft 7 playmaker also beat his marker with two of his three attempted dribbles, delivered an accurate cross from his only attempt, played one long ball and was fouled three times whilst winning five of six ground duels.
Nandez’s cameo would have displayed to David Moyes all the reasons why West Ham were interested at the start of the summer, and why he would have made the ideal midfield signing had funds been raised from the expected sale of Lanzini.
Lanzini proved last season that his best days in east London are in the past with an underwhelming campaign featuring just three assists and no goals in 25 outings, and has only been awarded minutes in the Carabao Cup this term with Moyes only feeling fit to name the 27-year-old among his substitutes for Premier League matches.
Controversy somewhat overshadowed the result for Uruguay on Thursday with Chile players furiously confronting the match officials at full-time, having felt multiple penalty decisions went against them during the affair.
Suarez’s strike to break the deadlock in the 39th-minute came from the spot after the Paraguayan referee Eber Aquino spent a long period of time scouring over replays of the ball bouncing up off Sebastian Vegas’ body as he slid in to block a shot before it struck his arm.
Chile’s frustrations mounted further when Aquino refused to consider two later penalty shouts, including one blatant handball nearing full-time that could have prevented Reinaldo Rueda’s men from starting their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in defeat.