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Lanzini ready to ease pressure on Bilic as he eyes World Cup tilt alongside Messi next summer

Date Posted,April 7, 2017

Manuel Lanzini is ready to ease the pressure on under-fire boss Slaven Bilic and take a step closer to his dream of playing alongside Lionel Messi at the World Cup next summer.

Bilic’s position will be severely under threat if the Hammers suffer another home defeat against fellow strugglers Swansea at London ­Stadium today.

West Ham have lost their last five Premier League games and are ­rapidly slipping towards the bottom three.

The long-term future of Bilic has been called into question once again and, with the likes of Roberto ­Mancini, Rafael Benitez and Jaap Stam being heavily linked with the east London club, the Croatian cannot contemplate another defeat this afternoon.

Lanzini has no doubts that Bilic is the best man for the job and the ­Argentinian star is confident he will put things right and will still be at the club next season.

Bilic is feeling the pressure at the London Stadium (Photo: AFP)

Lanzini said: “Slaven has shown a lot of confidence in me since the very beginning. He is a big part of the reason I signed for the club and has always treated me very well so I am very grateful to him for that.

“He is a great coach and works very closely with the players.There is still a level of respect between him and the players.

“It is not my decision about Slaven’s future but he led the club to a great season last year and I am very grateful to him. I would love him to stay.”

One thing Lanzini can control is becoming the star man in the ­Hammers line-up and he is relishing the chance to take over the mantle from Dimitri Payet, who left the club in January.

The 24-year-old certainly has big shoes to fill as Payet was idolised by the West Ham fans before he went on strike and turned the whole club against him.

Lanzini says he thrives under the pressure of being the main man (Photo: PA)

But Lanzini thrives on the ­pressure of becoming the main man and hopes to maintain his recent good run of form and force his way into the Argentina team.

He added: “The responsibility is there for me and it always has been. I always remember when I was a youngster and my coach Ramon Diaz told me that I had to be the key man in the River Plate team. That is something that I managed to do and we won the league.

“It is something that I have tried to do throughout my career and every club I play for. I enjoy ­playing under pressure and it helps me perform better.

“I have always been someone who likes challenges and I like to think that I am the key man.”

After missing out on the Olympics last summer when he suffered a knee injury in the build-up, Lanzini is determined to make up for that heartache and achieve his dream of playing at the World Cup finals in Russia next summer.

Lanzini wants to play alongside Messi next summer (Photo: REUTERS)

With the prospect of a certain Barcelona superstar playing alongside him, Lanzini says it would be a dream come true to make it. “Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and I admire him, not just as a player but for the class he shows when he is off the pitch,” Lanzini said.

“He is the kind of player that, when you perform alongside him, he makes it easier for you. It would be amazing for me to play alongside him – it would be a dream.

“When there is a major tournament just around the corner it is obviously something that you think about as a player.

“I know getting there will be very tough but in terms of my own form I feel that I am doing very well at the ­moment and I feel fit and strong. I am scoring goals so I am in good form.

“At the end of the day it is down to the coach to decide and all I can do is to keep working hard for West Ham.”

Manuel Lanzini was speaking on behalf of Betway, official principal sponsor of West Ham United. T he leading online bookmaker is paying out each-way bets to an extended SIX places on the Grand National

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