West Ham United

West Ham United

Premier League • England

Nikola Vlasic takes aim at West Ham as star drops transfer hint and explains how Torino gave him his freedom back

Nikola Vlasic of Torino FC during the Serie A match at Stadio Grande Torino, Turin

West Ham midfielder Nikola Vlasic has hinted he is ready to turn his loan move at Torino into a permanent deal after expressing his satisfaction with life with the Serie A outfit.

The Croatian star joined the Hammers in a £27m deal in summer 2021, making him one of the costliest in their history. But the 24-year-old struggled to find his feet at the London Stadium, scoring just one goal in 31 appearances. Such were his struggles that he made just six starts for West Ham in the Premier League.

And with David Moyes making several tweaks to his squad over the summer, Vlasic was allowed to leave on a season’s loan to Torino.

That move to Turin presents the Serie A outfit with an option to make the move permanent next summer. But such has been the early impact of Vlasic at Torino, they are reportedly looking to bring forward those talks.

Indeed, he already has three goals in six Serie A starts for his new club, seemingly adjusting quickly to life in Serie A.

That reported £15m option certainly makes sense from Torino’s point of view.

He’s played a starring role in their side so far, with the club ninth after their seven games played.

Playing with confidence and freedom, he now looks far nearer the player West Ham thought they were getting last summer.

And it seems Vlasic himself is keen to make the move permanent too. He has explained how the move to Torino has given him his freedom back and how the pressure to perform is far less with Il Toro.

Nikola Vlasic suggests pressure is less at Torino

“At Torino I have found my freedom again, I have been reborn,” he told La Stampa from Croatia’s training camp.

“Compared to England there is a big difference on a mental level. In Italy I feel like someone else, much better with my head: I am a free man again.

“And then at Toro everything is working, I train great, I know that there is a lot of work to do, but also that it is useful, and I will find it in the future.”

The move to Torino has seen Vlasic playing for his compatriot Ivan Juric, who is Torino’s coach.

And it appears he has the trust and belief of his coach, which is also contributing to Vlasic’s new-found form.

“What counts most is to play and at Toro I am doing it consistently. His (Juric’s) satisfaction, in granata I found so much trust from the environment, now I am happy, and I can’t really complain about anything.

“I ended up in a team with a lot of different people, but of quality. It’s up to Juric to make his choices, at most he may have some problems having more than one top player in the squad.”

Hammers will have to cut their losses on Croatian

The Hammers will be disappointed at Vlasic’s failure to make an impact at the London Stadium. Quite simply, the move just did not work out – but that is football and not every move will go down as a success.

Perhaps given it is the second time Vlasic has failed in England though perhaps means his game is not suited to the Premier League. An earlier spell with Everton – between 2017 – 2019 – also failed to bear fruit.

In between those spells, Vlasic starred for CSKA Moscow, where he scored 33 times in 108 games. Obviously a lower quality league, he never appeared close to those figures while at West Ham.

Ultimately, it seems West Ham will take a £12m hit on his signing, which will hurt.

Moyes could not get the best from the player. And by his own admission, maybe he just felt the pressure too great. At Torino, Nikola Vlasic seems to have found a club and a coach who believes in him.

As for West Ham, the next challenge will be how to get the most out of their more recent costly transfers. The likes of Nayef Aguerd (£30m) and Lucas Paqueta (£38.7m) both arrived from France this summer. Neither of them, though, are yet to find their feet.

And with West Ham struggling to so far – they have just one win from seven games – Moyes find himself a man under early pressure.

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