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From the London Stadium – with two roulette spins executed perfectly in under five seconds, West Ham’s supporters, enjoying a week to remember, roared with applause.

Such audacity is rare in the Premier League, let alone an effort by a West Ham player. Dimitri Payet and Paolo Di Canio have become stars of yesteryear who have tried it, maybe even Joe Cole. This time it was Lucas Paqueta bringing 60,000 to his feet.

The Brazilian became West Ham’s record signing last summer, signing a five-year contract understood to be worth more than £50million plus add-ons. There was great anticipation and excitement surrounding his arrival. The beginning of a new era, some felt.

But, like most things in life, it takes a while for Paqueta to click into gear. The 25-year-old needed time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League and it hasn’t been easy.

Paqueta, who was a regular starter for Brazil at the 2022 World Cup, has begun to hit his stride in recent weeks, and he was Outstanding performer against Sam Allardyce’s Leeds Unitedwho began his quest for three points in East London before falling into old, bad habits.

He not only produced the aforementioned pieces of brilliant skill, but also put in an overall performance that helped West Ham take control of the game – he had started sluggishly and was trailing quickly until Rodrygo’s superb volley. The momentum changed as soon as Paqueta began to hold up the ball, taking on a midfield that was clearly poor in quality.

Lucas Paqueta State Pack vs Leeds

Robin Koch in particular was soon overtaken as Paqueta, supported by Declan Rice, started to tickle things off. quick feet, subtle body positioning to guard the ball, strength when in one-on-one tackles; All the symptoms he showed on many occasions.

West Ham manager David Moyes has previously spoken about the need for players, regardless of their cost, to be given time to adjust to the Premier League. Pablo Fornals gives a previous example of a foreign import that needed to get used to its new environment.

Paqueta has also taken time to settle, but Moyes was not ready for this, despite his heavy price tag. In fact, the Scot knew some of his summer signings would need time to assimilate – a change tricked by West Ham In the transfer market they usually look to sign players who can make an immediate impact.

“I think a lot of teams are looking that way. If you have a model, which we have some good models at Brentford, Brighton, guys etc., it’s for the long term, they’ll probably absolutely sign for now. aren’t, they’ll probably just sign a few years down the line,” Moyes said when asked 90 minutes West Ham are about to look overseas with their business.

“Our model is more when they come in, they need to be ready. Maybe this year, we bought quite a few players and for me personally, not many of them hit the ground running. But I Lucas seems to have been the best player.” One that has really, really now come through and shown it. It’s a good time for us, because at the end of the season, we needed him. Scoring a few goals, helping us reach the final and obviously, he did really well today”

There are areas of Paqueta’s game that, despite the improvements, still need fine tuning. Making the right decisions and not overplaying immediately comes to mind. Issuance of passes earlier is another thing which can be worked upon.

david moyes

David Moyes was pleased with what he saw from Paqueta/James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

But those setbacks pale into insignificance when there are so many other things he does so well. Subtle drops of the shoulder, quick changes of pace and the ability to beat a player. Paqueta could, and should, have had an own goal as Leeds pushed forward with committed bodies to expose themselves on the counter, but in the end they had to settle for an assist for Manuel Lanzini’s goal. It was certainly enough to convince Moyes that things were going in the right direction.

“I think we’re starting to see someone we brought in to assist could score goals if he could. He looked a lot more settled,” Moyes said of Paqueta. Said.

“There’s still times I think, don’t do that much, and we’re trying to show him that, but that’s in his blood. He always wants to make the hard pass, which is a good thing because it probably leads to a For the goal. We need to see more of it but today I thought he was really, really good, exceptionally good and we played a big part in a lot of things.

Paqueta’s first year at West Ham could end with a Europa Conference League winner’s medal and a place in the 2023/24 Europa League. On the evidence of this performance, he is likely to be front and center in Prague if the Hammers make their first European final in 47 years, something they will never forget.

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