West Ham United have signed midfielder Abdul Razak. The former Manchester City youth player joined the Hammers on a short-term contract Thursday. What type of player is Razak? And how exactly will he help the Hammers?
Razak was probably the youth player former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini had the highest hopes for. While other youth players like Ryan McGivern and John Guidetti were given largely token looks from the Italian, Razak was given multiple games and a real opportunity to break into the first team.
The player was given a first-team debut in a Premier League game against West Brom at the age of 18 in February 2011. Over the course of the next 24 months, Razak would make nine more appearances for the Blues (five of which were in the Premier League) and also spend some time on loan at other British clubs.
The 2012-13 season began with Razak being touted as the first player from City’s youth system to potentially break through and become a squad regular. The Ivorian was seen as useful cover in a holding midfield role. But things did not pan out and after a short loan to Charlton in November 2012, Razak only played for the club two more times, both in late mop-up duty.
Razak’s assets were his touch and ability to hold up play on the ball. While smallish for a holding midfielder, he could also be deployed wide and has enough pace to play on the wing. Ultimately though, Razak’s downfall was his limited passing range and his propensity to give the ball away even after making nice runs or sitting on the ball for a period of time. He also lacked awareness at times and could not read the game very quickly in front of him.
As a young player, it was felt by the Blues coaching staff that he would eventually improve his passing game and attentiveness on the pitch. However, as time went on these issues became more apparent with both the youth team and the first-team. By the time Mancini was sacked in May 2013, the player had been written off.
West Ham right now seem to be collecting players, particularly midfield players. In theory, Razak can play the same role as Mohammed Diame who suffered what appears to be a short-term injury in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea. Razak can do some of the same things Diame does, like pushing wide from holding midfield position and winning the ball back in the center of the pitch. However, his passing remains suspect, and he cannot be counted on to play ninety minutes at a high level.
For a team in West Ham’s position, taking a flier on Razak isn’t a bad idea. But Sam Allardyce should only use the player as a late game stopper when trying to see out a game.
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