Manuel Pellegrini was apparently in attendance at the UEFA Nations League clash between Austria and Northern Ireland on Sunday night, with suggestions that the West Ham manager had a close eye on defender Stefan Lainer.
The Austrian right back, who currently plays for RB Salzburg in his homeland, was included in the starting lineup for his national side. In further West Ham-related interest, Hammers star Marko Arnautovic was named on the bench for Franco Foda’s side.
However, it was suggested by pundit Steve Lomas during Sky Sports’ coverage of the game, as quoted by This Is Futbol, that Pellegrini’s attendance was not only to monitor his star striker, but also to take a look at right back Lainer. Lomas said: “There’s talk of Manuel Pellegrini coming to the game today.
“He (Lainer) will certainly be one to watch – I really like the way he defends and attacks. The complete package at right back.”
West Ham have struggled for consistency at right back in recent years, with a number of players having failed to cement their place in the position.
The likes of Alvaro Arbeloa and Sam Byram failed to convince in east London, whilst veteran Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta is the current occupant of the role.
However, the former Manchester City star is now 33, and with Zabaleta’s remaining years at the top level clearly limited, West Ham may well be on the lookout for a long-term solution.
At 26, Lainer is entering his peak years and the offer of a move to the Premier League may be an ideal step up from the Austrian league at this point in his career.