As we reach the pivotal sector of the season, it appears that Slaven Bilic has not only set his sights on possible FA Cup and Premier League glory but also turned his interest towards improving and sharpening the team for the introductory season to the Olympic Stadium. The suave Croatian has publicly announced an interest in ex-Arsenal and current Monchengladbach midfielder Havard Nordtveit, whom will become available for free transfer in the summer. It is expected to be announced, formally, by West Ham within the upcoming few days after the Norwegian international stated: “I can say that I’m going back to England.”
Nordtveit, whom had a previous spell with Arsenal, did not make a single premier league appearance (albeit he did captain the reserve team in the 2007-2008 FA Premier Reserve League) and was soon shipped off to Borussia Monchengladbach on a three-and-a-half-year deal in December 2010, after loan spells with Salamanca, Lillestrom and FC Nuremberg did not convince Arsene Wenger that Nordtveit had done enough to break him into the first team.
The decision comes after Monchengladbach announced they would not be renewing Nordtveit’s contract and after 143 first team appearances he will leave the club, with the German club issuing a statement saying “Havard Nordtveit is leaving Borussia in the summer” following with “The Norwegian’s contract is expiring at the end of the season, with Borussia not prolonging it as he goes to England.”
Slaven Bilic announced himself that he was “monitoring” the player and although they face competition for Nordtveit’s signature, from the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid, he himself seems very keen on a return to England.
Looking at West Ham’s current midfield maestros, Nordtveit has won 49.44% of his total duels, which beats captain Mark Noble (47.04%), Barcelona loanee Alex Song (45.95%) and Pedro Obiang (48.77%) making him a great fit into the current programme that may see Alex Song leave, should West Ham decide not to make his loan deal permanent. Slaven himself said that he felt Nordtveit was a “great professional” and took note that he is current Monchengladbach captain. Nordtveit has amassed 32 first team appearances this season in all competitions which has really projected his maturity into a regular first team player and with a pass completion ratio of 83.1% this season, he should face no issues adjusting to the pace of the Premier League and to the style we have seen West Ham produce, on the field, this season.
There is also a further indication of Bilic’s vision when he announced West Ham are also signing Manuel Lanzini on a permanent basis. The little Argentine has been in brilliant form early on in the season and despite a big injury, Manuel seems to have convinced Slaven that he has the ability to help West Ham’s progression into a top club. Bilic had previously said “It is a clear situation from the start – he is on loan and the option is there. He is our player, he is happy, we are happy with him and we want him at the club for a long, long time.”
The fee is believed to be around the £8million mark – a fair price if he continues to produce the quality he has already shown.
Drawing comparisons with West Ham’s current attacking midfielders of Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio, Victor Moses and Enner Valencia (I’ve included Valencia as he often is used out wide, albeit predominantly a striker), Manuel Lanzini has second highest Key Passes per 90 minutes, with a score of 1.28. Only Payet has higher than that with 3.51, Moses in third with 1.09.
Additionally, Lanzini has the highest Successful Passes rate with 42.45 per game (Payet in second with 36.88). Manuel has found no problem adapting to life in the fast lane (in this case the Premier League). Not bad for a youngster who previously plied his trade in Argentina and UAE leagues! Having amassed 5 goals in 18 appearances (Payet first with 8 in 23, Antonio second with 6 in 18) and with all the enthusiasm in the world, West Ham have a little gem in Manuel and making his deal permanent is a no brainer.
With a tasty FA Cup replay against Manchester United looming, a very realistic shot at a place to qualify for the Europa League (even possibly the Champions League) and transfer rumours aplenty, there is much reason for the claret and blue army to be in an abundance of optimism as Slaven looks to build on the foundations of his solid start to life at West Ham.