The Football Association (FA) announced on Thursday that West Ham star midfielder Lucas Paqueta faces spot-fixing charges and a potential ban. The governing body previously revealed that they were investigating the issue over nine months ago. Paqueta initially joined the Hammers in the summer of 2022 for around $60 million. He has since proven to be one of the club’s best players over the last two seasons in east London.

The charges allegedly stem from Paqueta picking up deliberate yellow cards at least four different times from 2022 to 2023. These bookings occurred during matches against Leicester, Aston Villa, Leeds, and Bournemouth.

Despite the charges, the player has publicly denied any wrongdoing. “I am extremely surprised and upset that the FA has decided to charge me,” Paqueta recently wrote on Instagram. “For nine months, I have cooperated with every step of their investigation and provided all the information I can. I deny the charges in their entirety and will fight with every breath to clear my name.”

Paqueta ban could follow suit of Toney

Paqueta has rejected the severe claims. Unsurprisingly, the news worries West Ham given the potential ban for the club’s star. Brentford striker Ivan Toney previously served an eight-month ban for violating gambling rules. Nevertheless, this particular situation is quite different. The FA charged Toney for placing bets on teams, including his own, to win games.

Paqueta, on the other hand, was affecting matches by allegedly picking up yellow cards on purpose. In a more comparable case, Stratford Town defender Kynan Isaac was previously handed a 10-year ban for spot-fixing during an FA Cup match in 2021. The full-back was charged with deliberately receiving a booking in a match against Shrewsbury Town.

Due to this similar situation, West Ham fears that they could soon be without Paqueta for good. Potentially losing the Brazilian would be devastating for the club. After all, the midfielder is currently the most valuable player in the entire team.

Charges could hinder Hammers from receiving $100 million

Paqueta’s immense value was evident when West Ham brass rejected an offer of $75 million for the star from Manchester City last summer. The Premier League champions desperately wanted to sign the Brazilian ahead of the most recent season.

City walked away from negotiations. Most expect the rumors to return this summer. Paqueta reportedly has a release clause in his contract worth about $108 million and City was certainly considering triggering the deal.

Nevertheless, a potential move for Paqueta now seems extremely unlikely. The new charges put off potential suitors looking to bring in Paqueta as a creative midfielder. Paqueta’s contract at West Ham currently runs until June of 2027.

The FA and Hammers remain quiet over when a ruling on the charges will possibly come down. However, officials will not hear the case until August at the earliest. This is mostly due to Paqueta’s involvement with Brazil at the 2024 Copa America in the United States. As a result, the summer transfer market may close before an official ruling.