By Anthony Onifade

14th Mar, 2023 | 7:10am

West Ham United pursuit of Wolves defender Ryan Giles forced to take back seat as Emerson shines as leading light

Emerson Palmieri is starting to look like the real deal for West Ham after a shaky start, and the club could now shelve plans for a replacement after recent interest in Ryan Giles.

According to the Mirror [9 March, page 56] on-loan Wolves defender Giles, currently at Middlesbrough, is of interest to the Hammers if the Midlands club decide to sanction a deal this summer.

Giles is on a season-long loan from the Molineux, and his performances at left wing-back have proven a major factor in Boro’s rise up the Championship table under Michael Carrick, registering the most assists in the English second tier (nine).

If Wolves do sanction a sale then West Ham are likely to pounce, so considering Giles’ current ability and potential to play at the top level, the 23-year-old could well have been a long-term option at left-back following Emerson’s struggles early in his Hammers career.

Yet, the 28-year-old seems to have established himself as a key performer in David Moyes’ team in recent weeks, starting all of the Hammers’ games since the World Cup break, and he’s gone on to register a goal and an assist in his last five games.

The Hammers brought the 28-year-old from Chelsea in the summer transfer window for around £13m but he struggled to make an impression, coinciding with the East Londoners’ dreadful form.

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But in recent weeks the Italian international has arguably been the club’s best player. He completed five passes into the final third in the 1-1 draw against Chelsea on 11 February – more than any of his teammates [FBref] – proving his attacking influence.

And the marauding left-back one again proved the Hammers’ best performer against Aston Villa on Sunday [12 March].

The Italian registered 63 touches with an 86.5% completion rate from 37 attempted passes, winning five successful tackles, one interception, three clearances and two blocks. He also made one key pass and won all of his two aerial duels (WhoScored) in a complete and assured performance in defence.

The Hammers will of course be undergoing a stark rebuild this summer, with plenty of the club’s experienced stars likely to leave including fellow left-back Aaron Cresswell.

Giles may indeed be a long-term replacement for the 33-year-old veteran but Emerson has proved in recent weeks that he still holds a significant future in East London and establish himself as one of the club’s most consistent and reliable performers in their potential new-look defence next season.