In Focus: Cornet hopes to make a noise as Hammers bid for Euro glory
Maxwel Cornet was denied a dream first West Ham goal in their 2-1 defeat at Chelsea last Saturday.
The £17.5million signing from Burnley thought he had made it 2-2 late on for the Hammers, only for the goal to be chalked off for a supposed foul on Blues goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
The 25-year-old has had to bide his time to impress since his move to the London Stadium but looks set for a start in his side’s Europa Conference League group stage opener against FCSB tonight.
Ahead of that clash, we turn the spotlight on whether the winger is now ready for more minutes with the Irons.
Having not had a full pre-season following his witch from Turf Moor, Cornet has been used sparingly by David Moyes so far.
He was given only a four-minute cameo to help save the game at Stamford Bridge — but it was certainly a lively one.
With virtually his first touch, the substitute hit the post with a close-range header after being teed up by Said Benrahma.
And moments later, the Ivorian thought he had spectacularly opened his account for the Irons after latching on to a loose ball in the box and firing into the top corner.
While the goal was controversially disallowed for what was judged to be a foul by Jarrod Bowen, it was a fine finish nonetheless and a glimpse of the quality Cornet possesses.
A new weapon
Cornet’s impact will be enough to give West Ham fans some much-needed excitement after a laboured season so far.
Moyes knew he needed new faces to spruce up their attack ahead of another packed season where they look to fight domestically and in Europe once again.
With the left-footed trickster coming in to support the likes of Benrahma and Bowen out wide and Gianluca Scamacca joining Michail Antonio up front, the Glaswegian boss will feel he has done that.
But last season’s seventh-placed side have managed just a win, a draw and three goals in six league games so far, with the underwhelming start increasing calls for their new men to get more action.
Though given his fitness concerns, the Hammers coach has been reluctant to throw Cornet in too soon.
After the Chelsea defeat, Moyes said: "I don’t think he [Cornet] was in great condition on his arrival, I don’t think he was quite right.
"But I’ve definitely started to see him beginning to flourish and beginning to get used to us and us get used to him.
"There are signs of him getting better and looking as if he can score a goal and make a goal. So we’re hoping we get the benefit of that in the coming months."
Premier League proven
Of West Ham’s eight summer signings overall, Cornet is perhaps the one who arrives with the most pedigree in the English top flight.
The former Lyon flyer proved a sensational addition to Burnley’s ranks when he arrived last summer despite their eventual relegation.
Finishing as the Clarets’ top scorer with nine goals as well as picking up an assist in 26 league outings, hopes of surviving relegation during a tough season were quickly placed on his shoulders.
And despite the Lancashire side’s six-year stint punching above their weight in the Premier League ultimately ending, there was the sense Cornet would earn a move to remain in the top division.
After swapping the claret and blue of Burnley for West Ham’s, Moyes revealed just how much he admired his new No14 from afar last term.
Moyes said: "He made a big impact with his performances for Burnley last season and he has impressed me with his desire to improve and challenge himself further here at West Ham."
West Ham’s two European games so far have been the best chance to catch a glimpse of Cornet as an Irons player.
Named in the starting XI in the first leg of their European Conference League play-off against Viborg, it took the winger 23 minutes to claim an impressive assist.
Using his pace and trickery to turn a defender inside out on the left side, the 29-cap international put the ball on a plate for fellow signing Scamacca to head home.
A week later he laid on another assist, with his weighted first time through ball allowing Benrahma to net as the Hammers comfortably sealed a group stage spot.
Tonight’s visit of Romanian outfit FCSB looks to be a good chance to get another start under his belt in East London.
Impress again and it may just convince Moyes to hand him his first Premier League start for West Ham against Newcastle on Sunday.