Paqueta reflects on Europa League clash as he reveals what ‘influenced’ him to join West Ham

Date published: Tuesday 13th September 2022 10:44 - Jason Soutar

Lucas Paqueta during a match

Lucas Paqueta says his experience of playing against West Ham in the Europa League last season influenced his decision to join the club.

The Hammers paid a club-record fee to sign Paqueta from Lyon in August.

He was absolutely superb during his two-year stint with the French club.

Last term, the 25-year-old Brazilian international scored nine goals and provided six assists in 35 Ligue 1 appearances.

Paqueta was also linked with Newcastle United and Arsenal before West Ham swooped in and signed him for a reported £51.3million.

Lyon were knocked out in the Europa League quarter-finals by the Irons in 2021/22.

Speaking to West Ham’s official website, the playmaker said his experience of playing in the “fantastic” London Stadium was a factor in him deciding to join the “amazing project” in east London.

“After we played West Ham in the Europa League last season, we all said, as players, what a fantastic stadium it was and how great the fans were and what great energy there was in the place,” he said.

“That’s definitely something that influenced my decision as well. Without a doubt, it’s an incredible club and something that I wanted to experience.

“It was really that desire that everybody at the club showed in this amazing project they have and the fact they wanted to include me in that really cemented my decision.

“When I arrived here and saw how much confidence everybody and all the fans had in me and how happy they were to see me here, it just makes me want to reward them and pay that back each time I get on the pitch and just to commit myself and devote myself to this club.”

Paqueta started his career with Flamengo in Brazil before moving to AC Milan for over £30m in January 2019.

His time in Italy was not a success, but the Brazilian midfielder insists it was a “really important and positive experience” in his career.

“Milan was something that I can look back now as being a really important and positive experience,” Paqueta added.

“At the time, it wasn’t easy. I was the only Brazilian player there and perhaps I wasn’t prepared for that experience, but I learned so much there and I had some really happy moments so, for me it was just a very important experience in my life.

“I improved a lot as a player there and I can only thank Milan for that opportunity and wish them all the best always.”

He continued: “In Milan, and it was all about learning and all about working hard and learning to look after myself, so it was an apprenticeship.

“When I got to Lyon, I was a different player then so it’s not the same thing as Milan in my mind, and that was really the difference.

“Beyond that, there were Brazilian players there and [former Lyon and Brazil attacking midfielder] Juninho Pernambucano was part of the management and he put a lot of trust in me and I never doubted myself.

“I always believed that I would fulfil my potential and I’m so happy with how it’s gone and I’m very thankful to the club for helping me to restore that confidence in myself.

“Now I look forward to putting that confidence into good performances here for West Ham.”

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