West Ham United may have to pay the price for an apparent blunder, after Olympique de Marseille walked away from a deal to sign Manuel Lanzini in January.
According to The Sun, Andre Villas-Boas had pushed the Ligue 1 outfit to sign Lanzini as part of a major revamp at the Orange Velodrome.
The former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur head coach initially attempted to include Lanzini in a potential swap deal for Morgan Sanson, before later returning with a straight loan approach after OM sold the 26-year-old to Aston Villa for £15.5m.
Villas-Boas was keen for Lanzini to play a role in turning Les Phoceens’ fortunes around after a difficult campaign, but the Marseille hierarchy instead opted to sign Olivier Ntcham on a loan-to-buy deal from Celtic.
Villas-Boas had hit out at Marseille for signing Ntcham until the end of the season, noting via quotes by The Guardian: “I submitted my resignation saying that I did not agree with the sporting policy.
“We ended the transfer window with a new player [in Ntcham]. He is a player that I had said ‘no’ for.”
OM deemed his comments “unacceptable” and fired the 43-year-old following a season that saw Les Phoceens eliminated from the Champions League after the group stage.
West Ham failing to offload Lanzini to Marseille will go down as a blunder by the Irons’ co-owner and Chairman Sullivan, as the Argentine had seemingly been placed firmly in the shop window by head coach David Moyes ahead of the winter transfer market.
Lanzini was reportedly made available for a mid-season move in December but had failed to attract any interest before the window opened last month, when claims emerged that West Ham were valuing the five-cap international as highly as £15m.
It was no wonder Moyes was willing to sacrifice the midfielder given how infrequently he had featured over the first few months of the campaign, starting two of 11 Premier League appearances, and is unlikely to feature too often now than Jesse Lingard has joined on loan.
Lingard’s arrival from Manchester United has already seen the England international take a more prominent role in Moyes’ plans, starting both available games and scoring a brace on his debut, while Lanzini has been left an unused substitute in the Hammers’ last four top-flight fixtures.
Yet Villas-Boas clearly liked what Lanzini could have brought to the table at the Stade Velodrome. But he could not be united with the £70,000-per-week playmaker, potentially due to the Irons’ demands with Celtic sending Ntcham to France on loan with a £5.5m option to buy.
West Ham will now be left to rue pricing Lanzini out of a move to OM with his lucrative terms running to 2023. And with Lingard also now ahead of him in the pecking order, the Hammers will struggle to see the former Al-Jazira maestro maintain his market value until the summer and they may be forced to sell him for a cheaper fee when the season ends.