By support

2nd Mar, 2017 | 6:19pm

Bilic: This West Ham 24-year-old makes everyone around him feel comfortable

By Will Butcher

Slaven Bilic believes playmaker Manuel Lanzini is crucial to West Ham’s successes as they prepare to face Chelsea on Monday night.

Lanzini, 24, has been identified as the man to provide the Hammers’ creativity following the loss of last season’s Player of the Year Dimitri Payet, who returned to Marseille in January.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s showdown with London rivals Chelsea, Bilic claimed that West Ham’s number 10 is “crucial” in helping his teammates feel relaxed on the pitch.

“He is a top player,” Bilic told West Ham’s official Twitter account. “He makes all the players around him feel more comfortable.

“They play with more confidence, on the ball, on the pitch, knowing that if they are in trouble they can pass to him and he will always make the space for them; that is crucial.”

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West Ham’s number 10 has been in wonderful form in claret and blue this season, providing seven goals during his 23 Premier League appearances.

Scoring five against the likes of Tottenham, West Brom and Crystal Palace, the Argentina Under-20’s international has also conjured up two assists.

Bilic will be hoping that he can add to his goal tally at the London Stadium on Monday night, as the Hammers look to defy the odds by pulling off a shock victory against Antonio Conte’s side.

The east London outfit will be hoping for a change in fortunes after losing the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge, with James Collins’ strike not enough to stop the Blues.

Lanzini is expected to start in attacking midfield, as he looks to orchestrate three points that could see Bilic’s side move to within four points of eighth placed West Brom.

In other West Ham news, Michael Owen has predicted the London showdown against Chelsea.

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