Bilic: Happy Lanzini, transfer targets, kicking-off at Old Trafford and crazy fees
Manager Slaven Bilic gave a wide-ranging press conference ahead of West Ham United's Premier League season-opener at Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.
The Croatian was asked about a host of subjects, including Manuel Lanzini, the possibility of signing another player during the transfer window, traveling to Old Trafford and the knock-on effect of Neymar's record-breaking transfer from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain.
Here is what he had to say...
‘He is happy here and he likes it’
Slaven Bilic was asked in his pre-match press conference about the importance of Manuel Lanzini to West Ham United, in light of speculation linking him with a move elsewhere during the current window.
The No10 signed a four-year deal on making his move from Al-Jazira Club permanent in March 2016 and the manager revealed the Hammers are now keen to tie Lanzini down to a new long-term contract.
Bilic has a close relationship with his playmaker and believes the Argentina international is happy in a Claret and Blue shirt.
“He is one of our key players, definitely,” said the manager. “Manu is a great lad and he knows his situation. I spoke with him last season a few times, at the end of the season, and at the beginning of the pre-season and he knows we are looking after him.
“He has a big year ahead of him and we know his situation and we’re going to do everything possible to sort him out.
“He has got a long contract with us but, let’s be honest, the Chairman always used to appreciate those sorts of situations and I know he activated his clause even before he had to. He already showed him how much we respect him and he deserves from us to do it again. No doubt he is our key player and we’re going to well look after him.
“When I said he is a great lad, he never showed me – and we speak on a daily basis – any sort of things that he is unhappy. Of course every player knows his situation and wants to use his situation in a good way for himself, but I know for sure that he is happy here and he likes it.”
Any other business?
While West Ham United are happy with the business they have done this summer, Bilic says the Club may not be done when it comes to the transfer window.
The Hammers have brought in five international players – Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart, Marko Arnautovic, Chicharito and Sead Haksabanovic – and allowed six first-team squad members to leave east London during the current window.
However, the manager pointed out that the net expenditure means there are still funds available to make one further big-name signing.
“I said I am thankful and I have to congratulate the Chairman and the Board for the business, because I said we wanted players who are going to improve our first eleven – and I mean 15 players – and that’s what we’ve done,” he repeated. “We wanted to get good players with great character who know the league and we got them.
“Top players are hard to get but all of us are trying to get them. We’ve done the business but one more, I would love.
“If we have to offload or to sell one, even then, but the other positions we have filled and done our priorities – right-back, centre forward and left wing – and then Joe Hart happened.
“Now, if one goes, one will come to refresh the side, or if we can get something better then there is a possibility to do the job. The Board did a great job to get our first targets but didn’t spend crazy money because we sold players for good money as well.”
‘It’s not the ideal start…but it’s brilliant!’
West Ham United face one of the Premier League’s toughest tasks this weekend – trying to secure a positive result at Old Trafford.
However, Slaven Bilic is unbeaten in two top-flight trips to Manchester United as Hammers manager and is hopeful of completing a creditable hat-trick this weekend.
So, while he would likely have picked a more simple task to kick-off the 2017/18 campaign, Bilic is not writing off his team’s chances by any means.
“It’s not ideal to play there in the first game of the season, but on the other hand it’s brilliant!” he smiled. “It’s always the greatest away game in the league and of course we are positive and of course we have a chance.
“We know they are Manchester United and they improved the squad with quality and big transfers and all that and they already played one competitive game against Real Madrid.
“We are looking forward to it. We have some good recent memories of going to Old Trafford, having gone there twice in the league and we drew two times.
“It’s going to be very difficult and we know we will need to be on top of our game. We are missing some players who it would be better if we had with us, but of course we are positive.”
Neymar’s knock-on effect
The €222 million (£201 million) transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain has rocked the football world, with speculation rife that a number of other top players will move for huge fees before the current transfer window closes.
West Ham United broke their own record fee when they signed Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City last month, but Bilic admitted even he has been surprised by the amount of money being paid this summer.
“For me it’s crazy money, of course it’s crazy money! I mean, where did they find €222 million?” he laughed. “Of course, the money is ridiculous, but then again, if it was only Neymar or Messi or those kind of players and it only raised the price of excellent players, it’s OK.
“However, it is going to raise the price of average players and that is the problem because there are loads of them, but you can’t stop it.
“Then, does the circulation of money help the smaller clubs? This money that has gone to Barcelona, they are going to spend it and those clubs who receive it will then buy some players. One part of it will go to smaller clubs but if you ask me if the money is crazy, then yes of course it is.
“If you want to play at big game fishing, you’ve got to be prepared to spend a lot or at least find the balance between spending and producing from your own Academy.”