Following the departure of star midfielder Declan Rice to Arsenal, West Ham were in desperate need to replace the Englishman. And while the process took longer than hoped for, they ultimately brought in the exceptional Edson Alvarez to fill the void.
Having spent four success-laden years at Ajax, where he shone in Europe and domestically operating in a variety of roles both in midfield and defence, moving to the bright lights of the Premier League was a logical next step.
Bringing so much experience, tactical knowledge and leadership, the Mexican international should fit brilliantly into David Moyes’ side. Arriving for a fee of roughly £35 million, this is money well spent, for the 25-year-old’s an extremely complete midfielder essentially bereft of any real weaknesses.
An absolute defensive monster, who reads the play masterfully, times his interventions cleanly and makes terrific decisions, his ball winning qualities will be so beneficial.
Physical, athletic and full of energy, his aptitude here will allow his team to recover the ball in great areas, stop transitions before they develop with his counterpressing and serve as a huge asset when harrying opposition build-up.
Mobile, combative, positionally astute, hard working and never one to take a backwards step or shirk his responsibilities, he’ll add some crucial stability with his blend of power, intelligence and finesse.
A formidable asset in aerial confrontations as well, expect him to flex his muscles at attacking and defensive set-pieces, where he’s equally effective at powering efforts on goal and clearing danger. Moreover, his prowess here will ensure he shines at winning second balls in midfield while blunting opposition targets.
Meanwhile, when it comes to his output in possession, the rangy utility is a tremendous contributor here too. To start with his ball carrying, and Alvarez exploits any opening he gets to drive ahead. Long striding with nice control, good speed and hulking strength, he’s a hard man to stop when in full flight.
Excellent at gaining territory, luring out opponents, resisting pressure and destabilising defences, his dribbling heightens his nuisance both in deeper areas and in the final third.
Accurate and considered with his distribution, plus proficient at using his vision to find colleagues, he stamps his mark with conviction in this compartment.
Whether safely circulating possession while waiting for a weakness to arise, striking piercing ground passes, launching measured switches and through balls or engaging in intricate link play, he has a pass for just about any scenario.
Offering control, able to dictate the tempo and knowing when to accelerate moves, his distribution should give West Ham a fine foundation when passing out from the back or in established possession.
Accompanying the aforementioned with his movement, Alvarez’s elite understanding of the game, spatial awareness and alertness to danger due to his scanning ensures he’s an instrumental figure.
Having played under a host of different managers, and most notably, Erik ten Hag, he has an excellent grasp of possession mechanics so he recognises when to form overloads, help facilitate third man combinations and when to support the ball holder centrally or wider.
Happy operating deeper in defence, peeling wider into the half spaces and when venturing forward, there’s much to admire about his comfort in playing in all zones of the pitch.
While he’s not a direct replacement for Rice, Alvarez unquestionably has all the tools needed to thrive in the Premier League. Many glimpses of what he brings to the table were crucially evident when he came on as a substitute to make his Hammers debut against Chelsea, a team who were very close to snapping him this summer only for the deal to ultimately collapse.
Ready for the task ahead of proving he’s got what it takes to establish himself in the Premier League, Alvarez won’t be wasting any time in letting his skills do all the talking.
Set to be a fan favourite and immensely motivated to do all he can to help his team, the man who’s the fourth Mexican to play for the Hammers will now be keen to get down to work to write his own story on the biggest stage club football has to offer.
He may not be Rice, but his characteristics should ensure he’s still an immense contributor in all phases of the game, which is precisely what Moyes’ men need to help them enjoy another positive season after winning the UEFA Europa Conference League last term.