Manuel Lanzini returned to West Ham this week to continue his comeback from injury.

The Argentina international suffered a tear to his ACL in his right knee just days before he was due to represent his country at the World Cup.

Consequently, he is set to miss most of this season, despite making good progress.

Lanzini has spent some time in Barcelona recuperating and is now at West Ham’s Rush Green training site to continue his rehabilitation.

West Ham fans cannot wait to see the “Little Jewel” back on the pitch but was his injury a blessing in disguise?

Here, we look at two alternative theories suggesting West Ham might reap the long-term benefits of this injury.

The World Cup effect

Lanzini played a key role in Jorge Sampaoli’s World Cup preparations. There is no doubt he’d have had a central role to play in midfield.

Argentina are overloaded with talented attackers: Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero all vie for starts.

But they lack the creativity in midfield. This ultimately cost them an early exit at this summer’s World Cup finals.

With Lanzini pulling the strings in midfield, they could have gone much further. The 25-year-old would have provided excellent service for the front men to thrive from.

This in turn would have led to major interest in the midfielder. West Ham have already fended off widespread interest in their prize asset, but a good World Cup could have earned Lanzini the big move he probably deserves.

Had he not been injured, Lanzini might be at another club right now.

“I can only say thank you”

There is no questioning Lanzini’s loyalty to West Ham. He seems genuinely settled in East London and grateful to the fans.

In an interview with the club’s official website, Lanzini recently thanked the fans for their ongoing support.

West Ham United’s Argentinian midfielder Manuel Lanzini celebrates with supporters after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Everton at The London Stadium, in east London on May 13, 2018. – West Ham won the game 3-1. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

He said: “I can only say thank you. I always say thank you to the West Ham fans because they have been amazing.

“I’ve been at this club for three years and they were always good with me and I want to be back quickly and play for West Ham.”

Moreover, Lanzini might feel indebted to West Ham and the physio team for conducting his rehabilitation so thoroughly.

With injury denying him the opportunity to move away, his rapport with West Ham has been strengthened and increase his feelings of loyalty.

Would Lanzini have stayed?

The flip side of this argument is that Lanzini would have stayed at West Ham anyway.

Despite previous interest from Liverpool among other clubs, the attacking midfielder has never indicated that he would like to leave.

He seems committed to the club and might have stayed even if he had enjoyed a successful World Cup.

Either way, West Ham are struggling in the short-term without Lanzini and desperately need him back.