Lanzini excited for Argentine reunion in Seville

The distance between Buenos Aires and Seville is just shy of 6,000 miles, as the crow flies – and it’s even further to London.

But it is in Andalusia where the careers of Manuel Lanzini and Erik Lamela – both of whom came through the youth ranks at Club Atlético River Plate – will converge once more.

It was the case for six seasons that the Argentinean duo, who played together in River Plate’s 2010/11 side just as Lamela was preparing to depart for AS Roma and Lanzini was breaking through, were separated by merely a few miles across London.

Yet when Lamela departed Tottenham Hotspur for Sevilla last summer, the two close friends likely did not expect to be reacquainted quite so soon, when West Ham United face Sevilla at Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán on Thursday.

Lanzini will also come up against two former River Plate teammates in winger Lucas Ocampos and full-back Gonzalo Montiel, as well as compatriots Marcos Acuña and Papu Gómez – although the latter three are all reportedly injury doubts for Thursday’s game.

“I have a lot of friends there,” Lanzini smiled, speaking to West Ham TV.

“There are a lot of Argentinean players at Sevilla. I’ve played with all of them, and it’s going to be good to see them again.

“Montiel, Gómez, Acuña … I played with Lamela, Montiel and Ocampos at River Plate, and the other boys I played in the national team.

“They’re really very good guys. It’s going to be good to see them again."

Manuel Lanzini

When the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 tie kicks off, however, friendships will be suspended, with Lanzini eyeing only one outcome: progression.

That is sure to be a tough task for the Irons, who are playing at this stage for the very first time in their history, in stark contrast to six-time Europa League winners Sevilla, who have won the competition a record number of times.

Yet the Irons have proven time and again – as they did when they could consider themselves unfortunate to lose at Liverpool’s Anfield on Saturday – that they have the ability, mentality and drive to compete at the very top level.

A two-legged tie against La Liga title chasers Sevilla is another opportunity to demonstrate it.

Lanzini admitted: “It’s a big, big game for us. It’s against Sevilla and they are the most regular winners of the Europa League. 

“It’s going to be a tough game, but we need to enjoy it, and if we do, I think we can win.

“We need to first go there, play a very good game, and then after we be thinking about playing at home.”

UEFA Europa League round of 16 tickets