West Ham boss David Moyes should consider playing Nikola Vlasic in an unfamiliar centre-forward role between now and the end of the season.
After a disastrous January transfer window, the Hammers manager has Michail Antonio as his only option through the middle.
That obviously isn’t good enough for a club with supposed ambitions of challenging for honours both domestically and on the continent.
It’s too late to do anything about that now as far as new signings are concerned, until the summer at least.
Moyes can look for internal solutions though. He did that before a couple of years ago when he converted Michail Antonio from a winger to a centre-forward. And it might just be time to make a similar move.
West Ham are currently flying high in fifth spot in the Premier League table. We are through to the knockout stages of the Europa League and have an FA Cup fourth round clash to look forward to on Saturday.
Achieving success on three fronts seems impossible now, however, with only one senior striker at the club. Our season could well be over having failed to strengthen in January. Or is there something that could be done to get us back on track?
Moyes could save West Ham season by playing Vlasic up front
The 24-year-old attacker arrived at the London Stadium on deadline day from CSKA Moscow in the summer.
The Hammers allegedly paid a fee that could eventually rise to £33 million to bring the Croatian international to England from Russia (Evening Standard).
In truth, Vlasic has disappointed since swapping Moscow for London. He has shown glimpses of his quality, but as things stand, he needs to do a whole lot more.
The problem for the Croatian is that when Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini and Jarrod been are all fit, he faces a real uphill task to get anywhere near Moyes’s starting XI.
And that’s why we believe Vlasic should be trialled as a centre-forward. He hasn’t been deployed close enough to the penalty box thus far at West Ham in order to utilise his skillset in the most efficient way.
The 24-year-old could play in the ‘false 9’ or deep-lying striker role. He has the attributes required to do so, that’s for sure.
Vlasic possesses exceptional technical ability, is a very good dribbler and has incredible upper body strength. He also has a low centre of gravity which means that he can cause all sorts of problems in and around the penalty area.
Michail Antonio will not be able to play week in, week out between now and the end of the season. The obvious solution to that is to play Jarrod Bowen through the middle when the 31-year-old is unavailable.
The problem with doing that, however, is losing Bowen’s quality out on the right wing. Bringing Vlasic in as a centre-forward will enable Moyes to rest Micky and keep Jarrod out in his usual position.
It is worth a try at the very least. Who knows, Vlasic may be a complete flop in the centre-forward role. Moyes won’t know until he tries it though.
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