West Ham manager David Moyes admits he may rotate goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski and Alphonse Areola as the club prepare to tackle a hectic fixture schedule that includes a maiden venture into the Europa League.
The Hammers will enter this season’s competition at the group stage having sealed a terrific sixth-place Premier League finish during 2020/21, ahead of London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal.
But despite qualifying for Europe, West Ham have been unable to strengthen their squad as they may have liked. Signing a new central defender and a striker remain high on the priority list, and the club are actively working in the background on a number of deals for various targets.
So far, the only confirmed arrival has been goalkeeper Areola – who was a standout performer at Fulham last year – on a season-long loan from Ligue 1 giants PSG.
He will provide competition for Lukasz Fabianski – who is now 36 and recently retired from international duty with Poland – and Areola’s loan agreement also includes an option for West Ham to buy at the end of the season.
Fabianski got the nod on the opening day of the Premier League season, but speaking ahead of West Ham’s first home game of the season against Leicester, Moyes hinted that Areola will not be restricted to a watching brief – particularly now he’s up to speed in training.
“I have two top goalkeepers and both of them are very much in competition [with each other],” Moyes said. “At the moment, Lukasz is here and Areola’s just come in and is a wee bit behind on the training process, but he’s now ready to play and we’ve got good competition.
“We talked the other day before the game on Sunday [the 4-2 win over Newcastle] and said we’ve got 31 games before the turn of the year, so we’ve got a lot of games where we have to look at Lukasz’s age and the amount of games he played.
“He picked up a couple of injuries last year so I just felt I needed to get a real level of competition. Hopefully that keeps Lukasz on his toes and if we get an injury or drop in form then I know I’ve got someone who performed really well in the Premier League recently.”
Fabianski’s recent woes include a hip problem that he first sustained at Bournemouth way back in September 2019. That issue caused the Pole to miss over three months of action, missing 17 games along the way. He also missed three games last season because of injury.
Areola, meanwhile, started 36 of Fulham’s 38 Premier League games during 2020/21, though he was unable to save the Cottagers from the drop despite putting in a number of top drawer displays.