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The Right Back at the Wrong Time

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West Ham apparently poised to loan out the only fit right-back on the roster.

West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Rumors have been circling about that West Ham’s soon-to-be-only right-back on the roster, Sam Byram, could be headed out on loan this summer. It’s been reported as well that, given the right price, the Hammers would be fine with selling the 23-year-old defender. We know what you’re thinking, readers: yes, that would be a very, very stupid thing to do for a team that has struggled to fill the right-back position. Yet, this stance that Byram going out on loan would be a bad move is exactly why we expect it to definitely happen.

Well, bud, your dream might just come true a year later.

Byram is young, so Slaven Bilić—to absolutely no one’s surprise—most likely isn’t playing Byram because of his own occasional paroxysms of ageism. With an elderly Arbeloa ready to leave the club, Byram will soon be the last mohican on this roster at right-back. Not that either of the two have been given much playing time this season. Bilić has been slotting the athletic—but still not a proper right-back—Cheikhou Kouyaté into the aforementioned position instead of playing the actual right-backs on the roster, and it’s not like that has really worked out.

It’s no secret that Bilić needs to make some changes, but to loan out Byram when the board has done nothing to acquire a right-back is asking for trouble. West Ham United will have no right-back, and they will, for the foreseeable future, be forcing a square peg into a not-square hole. Yes, Kouyaté is athletic, but as our writer HammerPete put it:

“It is painfully obvious to even the most casual fan that Cheikhou Kouyaté is not a right-back. Oh, he’s a good footballer and decent defender, and can even run up and down the pitch pretty well, but he doesn’t provide service into the box or to the forwards.”

Byram, when given his chance to play, has done all of what Kouyaté simply cannot do at right-back and then some. Before Aaron Cresswell started to really stink it up this year, there were whispers that Byram would be West Ham’s Cresswell of the right side of the field: attacking up the pitch almost as a wingback, booting pinpoint crosses to the box, and making key passes to the midfielders who could then punch it toward the forward(s). Unfortunately, that comparison to Cresswell is not becoming at the moment. What Byram could be, though, is a solid attacking defender for a team that could use a lot of help in a gravely shallow position.

Sure, this is just a rumor and until it actually gets some legs we can’t blame the brass for even attempting to make such an asinine move because, once again, it is just a rumor.

The problem, though, is that we believe West Ham’s board would actually sell the only fit right-back on the squad with no known plan to get another. Worse off, if Byram were to be loaned/sold with no backup plan, the board would inevitably end up doing what they always do. They would make a last-second panic buy that would ultimately not pan out, and that move would just leave supporters wishing for a board that’d uphold its damned promises for once. Around and around we go.