Nayef Aguerd may have most effective visited London for the primary time not too long ago – however his switch to West Ham United is the fruits of a life-time’s footballing adventure.
The 26-year-old, who has joined the Hammers from French Ligue 1 membership Rennes on a five-year contract, is a self-confessed admirer of the Premier League – a contest to which his attributes seem ideally suited.
The Morocco global centre-back – who has 25 senior caps for his nation to his identify – arrives with two spectacular seasons with Rennes underneath his belt, having enhanced the popularity he established at FUS Rabat and Dijon.
And after making the switch to east London, the defender will now hyperlink up as soon as once more with long-time pal Pablo Fornals, whom he first encountered in an opportunity assembly while the Hammers’ No8 used to be plying his industry in Los angeles Liga.
“I went to Málaga – he [Pablo] used to play there,” Aguerd recalled, talking to West Ham TV. “I went in for a check.
“I used to be in Morocco so I went in just for exams, so I knew him from there in Malaga. We stayed in touch, and now he’s a just right pal.
“Once we began to speak about the pastime from West Ham, I despatched Pablo a message short of to learn about how the Membership is, what the teammates are like… He had some affect and used to be in a position to reply to some questions for me!
“I additionally spoke to [Wolverhampton Wanderers defender] Roman Saïss, the captain of our Morocco nationwide workforce, so much about coming right here and enjoying within the Premier League.
“Once I advised him about West Ham’s pastime, and requested him in regards to the league, he advised me: ‘You wish to have to signal there. You’re going to love the rustic, you are going to love London, and the soccer is the most efficient on this planet’. I additionally spoke to [fellow Morocco internationals] Imran Louza and Adam Masina at Watford.”
Aguerd and the Hammers will kick off their 2022/23 Premier League season by way of welcoming Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Town to London Stadium on Sunday 7 August.
So far as Premier League debuts fall, a fit in opposition to the reigning champions may well be observed as an intimidating task – however the Moroccan isn’t fazed by way of the chance.
His calm and composed persona – off-the-pitch up to on-the-ball – approach he totally believes his new workforce can report a in a similar way spectacular, if now not higher, consequence to the 2-2 draw in opposition to the Electorate in Would possibly.
The centre-back smiled: “Manchester Town used to be additionally the final house sport of this final season additionally [a 2-2 draw].
“It’s going to be a difficult problem. They’ve simply signed [Erling Braut] Haaland too, who is a smart participant. And there isn’t just one participant at Manchester Town. There are a large number of gamers with a large number of qualities.
“However It’s not that i am on my own. There’s a workforce round me and we can do the whole lot we will to forestall Manchester Town.
“I noticed the final sport at house in opposition to them, the 2-2, and this workforce confirmed they are able to forestall a workforce like Town.”
With London Stadium’s capability set to enlarge to 62,500 forward of the brand new marketing campaign, the fit is sure to be performed out to the backdrop of some other impressive surroundings in east London.
“It’s very best for me,” Aguerd smiled. “I’d say it’s a good force.
“It’s the similar within the nationwide workforce. Once we play video games, there’s 60,000 other folks on the sport. They push us to win – and you want that.
“The force is for the opposite workforce, once we’re enjoying at house. It’s going to be just right.”
A well-spoken and considerate particular person, Aguerd has obviously ready totally for his switch to the Membership.
And having met up with Angelo Ogbonna at Rush Inexperienced Coaching Flooring while talking to West Ham TV tasks, Aguerd admitted his pleasure – having additionally adopted the Irons’ spectacular UEFA Europa League marketing campaign this season – to being part of this particular crew of gamers.
“Ogbonna used to be injured [since November] final season so I didn’t see a large number of him,” Aguerd admitted.
“Kurt Zouma, I performed in opposition to him when he used to be at Chelsea, within the Champions League. He’s a powerful man and he can bounce prime. Issa Diop additionally performed in France and he is excellent additionally, as is Craig Dawson.
“I don’t like to speak so much in regards to the different gamers, as a result of I’m just a participant like them, however I’m taking a look ahead to enjoying with them.”
A metamorphosis in Membership has heralded a transformation in squad quantity, with Aguerd adopting the Hammers’ No27 blouse within the season to return.
And that shift comes with a extra non-public motivation, the centre-back admitted.
“That is the primary time I’ve worn No27,” the Moroccan mentioned with delight.
“I promised my highest pal in Morocco that, throughout my occupation, I’d put his favorite quantity on my blouse.
“I advised him that, in the future in my occupation, I’d put this quantity on my blouse. I didn’t know when, however I’d do it in the future. It’s his favorite quantity as a result of he loves [former Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina midfielder] Javier Pastore, who wears the No27.
“I advised him that in the future in my occupation I’d do it.”
Promise, fulfilled – a development Hammers will hope to look proceed for Aguerd within the Claret & Blue over the future years.