West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic remains confident that Manuel Lanzini will remain at the London Stadium amid interest from Premier League rivals Liverpool. The 24-year-old has recently emerged as a candidate to fill the void left by Philippe Coutinho, should Barcelona complete a deal for the Brazil international.
Barca's general manager Pep Segura says a deal to acquire Coutinho is close, despite the Reds denying they will sell their star player. If the comments do come to fruition, the Merseysiders will likely invest in signing a replacement but they may be forced to abandon any pursuit of Lanzini.
Reports last week suggested West Ham were ready to offer Lanzini a new £85,000-a-week contract to warn off interest from Liverpool, with Bilic confirming that the club were looking to tie him down to a new deal. Though an announcement has not been forthcoming, the Hammers boss is optimistic Lanzini will stay in an effort to ensure he wins a place in Argentina's squad for the World Cup next summer.
"No, I am not worried [about Lanzini leaving]," said the Croatian boss, according to Football.London. "I got it from the papers, the news. That's it. But, I said it last week when we spoke about it before Man Utd game. I speak to Manu every day. He is very happy, he feels at home here and he feels wanted. You can feel it, you can see it. I don't have to talk to him. You see how he is smiling here.
"He broke into the national team of Argentina despite being injured, he got a call up for the September games. So he knows if he is playing here for West Ham and has a good season, he can improve, sign a better contract with West Ham and play for Argentina.
"I don't want to set a price tag on him, I am sure he is going to stay with us. He knows that he is wanted. As I said, the chairman and the board, when he was on loan we took the option even before we had to, we activated it. He was voted players player of the year which is a good thing and he feels wanted at the place. He likes it here."
Even should Lanzini remain at West Ham and thwart Liverpool's pursuit then there is no guarantee he will feature for Argentina in Russia, with the two-time world champions currently outside the four automatic qualifying berths in the South American section.
Mundo Deportivo first claimed earlier this month that Lanzini had been identified by Jurgen Klopp to replace Coutinho, with Liverpool ready to cave to pressure from Barcelona in their efforts to spend the £195m recouped from Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain. The Catalan giants have since had two bids - the second standing at £90m [€100m] - rejected while the Anfield club - for whom Coutinho has yet to play for this season due to a back injury - are adamant he will stay beyond the end of the summer transfer window.