By Matt Farr
Football Insider has named West Ham’s most improved player of 2016.
Former Spain youth international Pedro Obiang has been named as West Ham’s most improved player of the year, after delighting Hammers fans with a series of impressive displays.
The 24-year-old joined the club from Sampdoria for £5million in the summer of 2015, and he has quickly established himself as a crucial defensive asset to the London-based club.
Month-on-month, Obiang has showed substantial improvement, and now he is drawing the attention of some of Europe’s top clubs.
According to TuttoMercato, back-to-back Europa League winners Sevilla are reportedly keen on bringing Obiang to Spain, but Hammers boss Slaven Bilic will want to retain the services of a man that has become such an integral part of his 3-4-2-1 system this season.
Obiang has made 19 appearances in all competitions this season, and despite West Ham’s poor form in the league, has been a particular highlight for Slaven Bilic’s men.
The midfielder has received endless praise from the fans in recent weeks, supported by his award for West Ham’s player of the month for November.
His hold-up play has been excellent, as has his tackling ability. According to Squawka, from Obiang’s 12 Premier League appearances this term, he has not made one defensive error, and has completed 333 passes, at an average accuracy of 82%.
He is a vital cog in the Hammers midfield, and he has thrived alongside the experienced Mark Noble. He rarely loses the ball, and the amount of tackles he has won has been imperative to West Ham’s possession-based system.
His contract runs for another three years, and if West Ham can retain the services of the Spaniard, he can become a major Premier League star.
N’Golo Kante is a very similar ball-winning midfielder to Obiang, and the former Leicester man has shown exactly what can come from a season in the spotlight. Kante won the league with the Foxes last-term, and earned a big-money move to league leaders Chelsea, where he has transformed the Blues’ midfield.
Obiang will by no means win the league for West Ham, but he can certainly go on to have a massive impact at the Olympic Stadium, and his recent displays are testament to that.
In other West Ham news, this young defender pips Ashley Fletcher to be named West Ham young player of the year.