By 90Min
November 30, 2018

When West Ham appointed former Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager last summer, they gave him a war chest to spend. Only Liverpool, Chelsea and Fulham spent more money than the £95.9m West Ham splashed out on nine new first team signings.

But results on the pitch have not followed, and the Hammers are just two points better off than they were at this stage last season. It speaks volumes that the busiest and best of their summer signings has been goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański.

Desperate to turn things around, Pellegrini has already started planning for further investment in January, and the unlikely name of Samir Nasri has emerged. The Frenchman is now training at West Ham's headquarters in hopes of improving his fitness enough to earn a return to England and a reunion with Pellegrini, his former manager at Manchester City.

There is plenty of scepticism about whether Nasri is the right man to solve West Ham's problems. He has been out of the game for almost a year, having been released by his last club Antalyaspor after he was banned from football until the end of 2018 for breaching doping regulations.

However, it cannot be denied that Nasri's versatility would be a hugely valuable weapon. Left wing is his preferred position but he is equally capable of playing on the right flank or as an attacking midfielder. West Ham fans can all agree that reinforcements are needed in those positions, particularly with Andriy Yarmolenko set for a long spell on the treatment table.

Felipe Anderson has shown exciting glimpses of his potential, but he has had little support from his colleagues. Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio have zero goals and one assist in over 1000 minutes of Premier League football between them this season, and Grady Diangana is too young to compensate for his misfiring teammates.

Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Say what you like about Nasri, but he always offered a creative threat. In his five full seasons at City, his assist figures were: nine, seven, nine, six, three. Admittedly, such figures are always easier to come by when you have a finisher of Sergio Aguero's quality in the centre, but Nasri's numbers speak for themselves.

The 2013/14 campaign under Pellegrini was the best of Nasri's career. He scored or assisted 16 goals and came up trumps when City needed him most, with assists in three consecutive matches during the run-in, before scoring the opening goal that settled nerves in the final day win over West Ham.

Those halcyon days are a long time ago now, but Pellegrini's relationship with Nasri must be an advantage when it comes to integrating him into his side and knowing what makes him tick. Likewise, Nasri's knowledge of Pellegrini's methods would help him to adapt quickly.

The whole team would benefit from Nasri joining their ranks. Felipe Anderson would be able to switch to the right wing role that he usually occupied at Lazio. Yarmolenko would not have to be rushed back from his injury. And Marko Arnautovic may not be Aguero, but he is one of the best strikers outside the big six and would thrive on Nasri's service.

With £100,000 a week summer signing Jack Wilshere having missed more games than he's played since he arrived, you can understand the fans' reluctance to see another bumper contract offered to a player who has struggled with fitness problems.

Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

But West Ham do seem to be learning from their mistakes. Nasri has been told to prove his fitness, undergoing a vigorous training regime to lose weight if he wants to earn a contract.

He will only be offered a six-month contract initially, as opposed to the three-year deal handed to Wilshere. If he does not prove himself in that time, he will be gone in June. If he does prove himself, he will be worth the money spent.

All in all, the question is not whether West Ham should take a risk on Samir Nasri. The question is...what risk?

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