Though Leganes’ form tailed off somewhat before the winter break, the Madrid-based minnows were undoubtedly one of the surprise packages of the first half of the 2017/18 La Liga season.
Playmaker Gabriel Pires was the star of the show. Evolving from a rather inconsistent number ten into an influential central midfielder, the 24-year-old may have scored just three and assisted one but the stats do not do his impact, or his improvement, justice.
And it appears that Pires’ improved form has led to renewed interest from the Premier League. Spanish outlet AS claims that West Ham are keen on signing the Brazilian in January, either on loan or on a permanent deal, having expressed a tentative interest in the summer.
Manager David Moyes admitted recently that he wanted midfield options in January – and the creative and dynamic Pires could perhaps act as an understudy to talismanic number ten Manuel Lanzini.
He'd cost a fair fee with Leganes demanding his £17.5 million buyout clause is paid in full, however, though it seems unlikely that West Ham will be alone in their pursuit. Newcastle United were heavily linked in the one-time Juventus youngster during the summer, via The Mirror, and Rafa Benitez would not say no to a playmaker capable of offering some bite to his toothless attack.
But it appears that West Ham will have a clearer run to Pires now with Everton, another club who were considering a move in the summer, hardly short of attacking midfielders.
With Sam Allardyce attempting to shoehorn Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson into the same starting XI while omitting £20 million summer signing Davy Klaassen, The Toffees have little need for Pires.