One thing that stands out off the bat is Benrahma’s direct influence in front of goal. Last season alone, he netted 17 goals in the Championship and contributed nine assists, helping Brentford reach the play-off final.
If you’re a West Ham supporter, you’re probably sick to the back teeth of the club’s transfer business during the ‘summer’ window.
Just one new arrival has wandered through the London Stadium doors, in the shape of right-back Vladimir Coufal. Costing just £5m, he hardly represents big business – though judging by his debut performance at Leicester pre-international break, the Czech may turn out to be a shrewd signing.
Other than that, West Ham’s supporters have had to settle for Tomas Soucek’s loan being made into a permanent move, with a number of other supposed targets falling by the wayside.
There’s also been the intense furore around the club’s decision to allow Grady Diangana, a promising young winger who had graduated from the academy, to join West Brom permanently. Sure, he netted the bank balance a cool £18m, but his departure represented everything that’s bad about West Ham’s way of doing things these days.
Furthermore, once record-signing Felipe Anderson has been lopped off the wage bill and sent packing to FC Porto on loan – a move instigated and pushed through by the club and not the player, if we’re to believe what we read.
There is, however, a small ray of light attempting to beam through the transfer darkness. That light goes by the name of Said Benrahma, a highly-rated Algerian playmaker who has made waves in the Championship with Brentford for the past couple of years.
A deal potentially costing upwards of £30m – yes, £30m – is agreed, offering some respite for a fanbase who have had very little to shout about in recent times, despite two glorious results before the pause for needless international football.
The question on every supporter’s lips now will revolve around value for money, and whether or not a player unproven at the highest level is worth forking out such a large sum for – particularly when Diangana was already on the books and raising cash to strengthen the defence was the primary reason for his departure.
With the help of WhoScored, we’ve done a little bit of digging into Benrahma’s game – comparing his statistics from the past season to Diangana and Anderson, in order to paint a more complete overview of what this deal means for West Ham.
The 25-year-old was one-third of the Bees’ ‘BMW’ attacking triumvirate – alongside Bryan Mbuemo and Ollie Watkins – and between the three of them, they accounted for 78% of the 83 league goals scored by Thomas Frank’s side. Benrahma also played in 43 of 46 Championship games last season, as well as appearing in both play-off semi-final legs and the final.
In comparison, Diangana only started in half of West Brom’s Championship fixtures, totalling 30 appearances overall. He played almost 2,000 less minutes than Benrahma, but still managed to tot up eight goals and six assists as the Baggies secured automatic promotion – an indicator that without injuries, he could have made a more substantial contribution.
Anderson, meanwhile, endured a player’s version of second-season syndrome, as his promising debut campaign in east London was quickly swept aside in favour of a campaign of anonymity.
The Brazilian scored just one Premier League goal and was responsible for just four assists – playing half of the amount of minutes he did during the 2018/19 campaign.
He only featured in 25 Premier League games in all – 80% of those coming from the start – and his minutes dwindled significantly towards the end of the season as David Moyes opted to utilise Pablo Fornals on his favoured left-hand side.
Benrahma’s other standout categories revolve around his directness in attack. He’s been playing at a slightly lower level, granted, but his average of 5.9 dribbles per 90 minutes played far exceeds what Diangana – playing in the same division – and Anderson were producing.
He also rained down 175 shots on goal over the course of the campaign, and although that only correlates to a 9.7% conversation rate, it demonstrates Benrahma’s appetite for scoring goals. In any event, netting 17 isn’t half bad when you consider it’s almost double Diangana and Anderson’s combined figure and his efforts on target stood at a respectable 36.5%.
In terms of passing, you’re splitting hairs between pass completion rate among the three, though Benrahma does rank highest in terms of number passes completed per 90 minutes. That’s an indicator that Brentford have been – and are – keen to get him on the ball as much as possible, given that he also excels in the other aforementioned categories.
But what stands out above anything, perhaps, is Benrahma’s fitness. When he moved to the capital aged 23, he’d never played more than 31 league games in a season – and even that was double the amount of his next best. At Brentford, he’s featured in 94 games in all competitions – at the time of writing – and that consistency has helped evolve his game ten-fold.
He’s now West Ham’s primary target and is almost certainly an upgrade on Diangana, no matter the circumstances of his departure from the club. He’s likely a better fit than Anderson, too, and the statistics highlight the graft Benrahma is willing to put in week in, week out – something that the former Lazio man didn’t necessarily display each and every time he took to the field.
Personal terms now just need to be thrashed out for Benrahma, and West Ham fans should be excited – because he does appear to have that little bit of ‘wow factor’, and could easily follow in the footsteps of Watkins, who is already shining brightly at Aston Villa after a big-money move.