West Ham have completed the signing of Lyon playmaker Lucas Paqueta in a club-record £51m deal.
The Brazilian midfielder becomes David Moyes’ eighth signing of the summer, taking the Hammers’ total transfer spend over £150m.
Despite typically hard negotiating by Lyon, West Ham have successfully acquired a Brazil international with real pedigree. Paqueta was a key contributor to Brazil’s 2021 Copa America win, and has been a rare shining light for Lyon in recent seasons.
Brazil manager Tite told the Guardian in June that Paqueta is one of the stars that takes pressure off key man Neymar and gives the Selecao a real chance of winning their sixth World Cup.
Paqueta emerged at AC Milan in 2019, having joined in a €35m transfer from Flamengo. He moved to Lyon a year later for €20m, where he has starred in a somewhat dysfunctional team.
He scored 10 goals in his debut season in France, adding 11 more last season. He also laid on seven assists in each season in France.
The 25-year-old is more than a light-weight playmaker though. Even in a physically demanding league like Ligue 1, Paqueta is among the top performing midfielders in terms of pressures, interceptions and tackles. He brings quality in both attacking and defensive phases.
West Ham have significantly increased their strength in depth this summer. The addition of Sassuolo forward Gianluca Scamacca, Rennes defender Nayef Aguerd, Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet, Chelsea veteran Emerson, Swansea midfielder Flynn Downes and PSG duo Thilo Kehrer and Alphonse Areola, are balanced by the departures of defender Issa Diop and winger Andriy Yarmolenko. In addition, the Hammers have loaned out Ryan Fredericks, Nikola Vlasic, Arthur Masuaku and Nathan Trott.
Following the significant squad overhaul, West Ham lost their first two Premier League games of the season before beating Aston Villa. They successfully navigated a UEFA Conference League playoff tie against Viborg.
They now face a group stage gauntlet of FCSB, Anderlecht and Silkeborg.
The addition of Paqueta should allow David Moyes to adapt his playing style from the long passing, defensively solid approach to something a little more open and attacking.
When news broke of West Ham’s aggressive approach for Paqueta, there were concerns that other Premier League clubs might seek to jump in and poach the playmaker. Tottenham and Arsenal both had a reported longstanding interest in his services, while Liverpool were also considered contenders given their search for a midfielder, but West Ham held off their rivals to complete a major addition.
One reason for caution is West Ham’s less than stellar record with high priced transfers.
Sebastien Haller, a €50m signing from Eintracht Frankfurt, did not pan out. Felipe Anderson signed from Lazio only to barely leave a ripple in the Premier League before returning to Rome. Kurt Zouma, until this summer West Ham’s third most expensive signing ever, has been at best a qualified success and endured more than his share of controversy, too.
Whether Paqueta can buck this trend remains to be seen.