The mind-blowing West Ham and Man City summer swap deal that would work for both clubs

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Manchester City have been linked with a bid for a West Ham star this summer - but could they send a player the other way as well?

Manchester City have two problems with their proposed transfer bid for West Ham United’s Lucas Paquetá. Firstly, the Brazilian is currently awaiting the outcome of an FA investigation into alleged gambling breaches. Secondly, they are already pretty well-stocked at left wing.

City were reported to be partway through negotiations on a dead to bring Paquetá to the Etihad last summer when news of the allegations – which the 26-year-old denies – came to light. That killed the deal, but numerous media outlets have since reported that the club are planning to return to the table in the next transfer window.

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If Paquetá is cleared of betting offences, then it seems increasingly likely that they will strike a deal, but if that happens then it will necessitate some reshuffling in Pep Guardiola’s squad. Jack Grealish, Jérémy Doku and Oscar Bobb are all competing for the same slot in the side, and that’s the same wide left role in which the West Ham man has played so well for David Moyes. Something would have to give.

Equally, West Ham would find themselves in the market for a left-sided attacking midfielder who can give them some of the penetration and creativity that Paquetá offers now – so one wonders whether a solution presents itself.

In Doku and Bobb, City have two hugely talented young players who need game time to continue their development. In bringing Paquetá in, they would be denied some of it. And given that some reports suggest that City may not be able to spend with their usual freedom this summer in order to ensure that they comply with the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules (PSR), there is a need to try to keep any incoming transfer fees nice and low. So – could City get the fee down by sending one of their young players in the other direction?

Clearly, we’d be talking about a loan deal, rather than a permanent switch. City have only just spent around £55m on bringing Doku to the club from Rennes, and if Bobb moves on it will need to be for a fee in order to put some valuable profit on the balance sheet for PSR purposes. A straight swap deal, or one with minimal money changing hands, doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

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But a loan move might work well for either young winger. The 21-year-old Doku shone in some of his early appearances for City, most memorably when he picked up a goal and no fewer than four assists against Bournemouth back in early November, but although there have been plenty of flashes of quality and dangerous, darting runs since, his production has dropped off.

Injury played some part in that, with a muscular problem forcing him to miss five games in December, but in his 16 appearances since he has just one goal – in the 5-0 FA Cup rout of Huddersfield Town – and not a single assist. Doku is extravagantly gifted, but his decision-making can be questionable at times and the end product needs some polish.

20-year-old Norwegian winger Bobb, meanwhile, has excelled in many of his brief cameo appearances for City this season and earned his first caps for his national team, but he has still started just one Premier League match and has mostly been used in cup games and dead rubbers in Europe.

It’s evident that Bobb has some impressive technique and offers a real threat in and around the box, but he hasn’t been getting the kind of minutes that he needs in order to take a step up. If he is going to develop into a starter under Guardiola, he most likely needs to get a full season of football under his belt somewhere.

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Which is why a loan spell away from City might make a great deal of sense for both players – and it would fill an immediate need for West Ham. If Paquetá were to leave (or be suspended) then their only ‘recognised’ left wing option would be Frenchman Maxwel Cornet, who has not managed to work his way into Moyes’ regular starting eleven since signing from Burnley.

In sending Doku or Bobb to a club slightly further down the league – albeit one who may still be playing European football next season – City would benefit from giving a greatly talented player a chance to gain the experience he needs to develop. And West Ham would get a player who would improve their squad and offer the manager options and, in all likelihood, some genuine attacking threat once one of their key playmakers moves on.

Part-exchange deals of any kind are deeply out of fashion these days, but using loans as makeweights in transfer trades is hardly unheard of, and sometimes the pieces all fit together rather well. It may be that Guardiola moves in another direction, of course – perhaps he sees Paquetá as a central midfielder, fitting more into the Bernardo Silva role, or perhaps he will move Jack Grealish on given the former Aston Villa man’s relative struggles this season. But if Paquetá leaves, West Ham will have some work to do regardless, and City need to make sure that two of their brighter starlets don’t wither on the vine.

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