In a season of little celebration at West Ham United, Arthur Masuaku has stood out as arguably the most improved player in claret and blue.
After a difficult first campaign at the London Stadium, the Frenchman stepped up his game in the early stages of the David Moyes era, aided by his transition from defensive full-back to dynamic winger.
With his fast feet, fancy tricks and pacey deliveries, Masuaku was barely recognisable from the man whose 2016-17 was marred by inconsistency and injury.
Signed from Olympiakos in August 2016, a serious knee issue limited the 24-year-old to just 13 Premier League outings that term and he was deployed mainly in a left-back role.
This season started in much the same vein; Masuaku started the opening-day loss to Manchester United but was mostly used as a substitute from then on until Slaven Bilic was dismissed as manager in November.
The club quickly moved to appoint David Moyes as the Croatian’s replacement and the former Everton boss swiftly identified that the Lille-born wide man would be better served moving up the pitch as a more traditional winger.
With less defensive responsibility on his shoulders, he became a major threat for West Ham over the next couple of months, his direct running and willingness to break from deep establishing him as one of the team’s key offensive outlets.
Although Moyes’ departure from the Hammers was confirmed on Wednesday to little resistance amongst supporters, he did help to get the best out of some players by switching their positions, most notably with Marko Arnautovic but also Masuaku.
Unfortunately for the latter, a spitting incident during an FA Cup tie in January saw him banned for six matches and upon his return to senior action he could not quite recapture his form from earlier in the campaign.
However, he did still play a role in West Ham’s eventual survival, with a particular highlight being a superb cross to set up Arnautovic’s second goal in a 3-0 win over Southampton in March.
Masuaku’s season was far from perfect, along with most of his team-mates, but he showed enough to hint at more to come next time around.