South American football expert left with egg on his face after prediction about West Ham duo Felipe Anderson and Fabian Balbuena

A general view of London Stadium prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and AFC Bournemouth at London Stadium on August 18, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.

South American football expert Tim Vickery delivered predictions for new West Ham United duo Felipe Anderson and Fabian Balbuena in the summer.

Manuel Pellegrini manager

West Ham spent over £50 million of their £100 million summer splurge on record signing Anderson from Lazio and Corinthians captain Balbuena.

While Anderson was better known given his exploits in Serie A with Lazio, Paraguay international Balbuena was very much an unknown quantity to Hammers fans.

Manuel Pellegrini stuck his neck on the line by signing the duo as part of his rebuild.

And self-styled South American football expert Tim Vickery predicted it could be a gamble that would not pay off.

Vickery, a freelance English football journalist who has lived in Brazil since 1994, is the South American football correspondent for outlets such as BBC Sport, ESPN and talkSPORT.

 

And speaking on talkSPORT about West Ham’s transfer activity he brought excited Hammers fans crashing back down to earth by questioning whether Balbuena or Anderson have what it takes to cut it in the Premier League.

Thankfully for Hammers fans, though, Vickery's prediction already looks way off despite a sticky start for Pellegrini and his new recruits in East London.

West Ham have emerged from four straight Premier League defeats to beat Everton and Manchester United 3-1, draw with Chelsea and advance to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup with a record-equalling 8-0 win over Macclesfield.

Anderson and Balbuena have been two of the stars of the turnaround to leave Vickery with egg on his face.

Felipe Anderson arrives at the stadium ahead the friendly match between West Ham United and SCO Angers on August 3, 2018 in Grodig, Austria.

While one swallow a summer does not make, the duo certainly don't match the descriptions from Vickery so far.

Here is his prediction in full on how the duo would fare in England.

“He’s (Balbuena) a no-nonsense, big, physical defender but I’ve come to the decision over the years that centre back is the hardest position to adjust to coming straight from South American football to the Premier League,” Vickery told talkSPORT in the summer.

“Some even better defenders than Balbuena have struggled with it a bit, I’m thinking specifically of (Gabriel) Paletta who came into Liverpool and really didn’t do well at all but ended up in Italy and doing so well that he played for Italy.

“Balbuena has been with Corinthians who are a very, very organised team… I’m a little bit worried for him taken out of that context, I’m a little bit worried that he might be a bit too ponderous in the Premier League.

“He’s not the quickest… he may just get found out a bit.”

Fabian Balbuena of West Ham United during his Press Conference after Trainining at Rush Green on September 20, 2018 in Romford, England.

But surely the tricky and fast Anderson, who has proven himself in Serie A and Europe with a big club in Lazio, would get Vickery’s backing? Think again.

“Felipe Anderson, I haven’t seen a great deal of him since he moved to Lazio. I saw a lot of him in Brazil coming up at 18, 19, 20 (years-old) at Santos,” Vickery added.

“I have to say his success in Italy surprised me a little bit because if I close my eyes and think about watching him with that Santos side with Neymar the memory I have is the coach just constantly yelling at him because he was a little bit of a dreamboat.

“He’s quick, he turns and spins very well, carries the ball very well, a lovely right foot, I think in a kind of 4,2,3,1 you could play him anywhere in that line of three backing up the main striker.

“Perhaps a little bit on the lightweight side for the Premier League, there’s a lot of ability here but this is a career-defining move for him.

“It’s going to be a big one for Pellegrini to get him to be consistent, there is talent there (but) if it was my club with £46 million I’m not convinced that I’d do it although he is in that great West Ham tradition of having those little flashes that get you up out of your seats.”

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