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Julen Lopetegui provides Lucas Paqueta update after betting allegations

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Football

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New West Ham boss Julen Lopetegui admits Lucas Paqueta is “suffering a lot” after being charged by the Football Association over alleged betting breaches.

The midfielder, who is currently playing for Brazil at the Copa America, was charged in May with spot-fixing offences in four Premier League matches.

Paqueta has vowed to “fight with every breath” to clear his name over allegations he attempted to get booked for betting purposes in Premier League matches against Leicester in November 2022, Aston Villa in March 2023, Leeds in May 2023 and Bournemouth last August.

Speaking at his first press conference as West Ham manager, Lopetegui said: “We know that he and his family are suffering a lot in this moment, but I like when I see him smiling in the last few months because he is enjoying football and he is playing very good football.

“We are his family. He has family in Brazil and in England, the club is his family. We are going to take care of him a lot and we are waiting and looking forward to seeing him on the pitch for us.

“The last match he played very well and I was happy to see him playing in this way. He’s a very important part of our team.”

Lopetegui stressed the importance of the Hammers keeping hold of their key players, especially with Edson Alvarez having picked up an injury on international duty with Mexico.

Asked how crucial it was to hold on to the likes of England international Jarrod Bowen and Ghana star Mohammed Kudus, Lopetegui said, “We are crossing our fingers because we suffered a big injury with Edson.

(AFP via Getty Images)

“He is an important player and we want them to smile and for them to come back in the best condition because they are important players.”

The Spaniard, who has succeeded David Moyes as manager, is back in the Premier League, having left his role at Wolves last summer.

West Ham start the new season against Aston Villa on August 17.

“I think the Premier League is the best league in the world,” Lopetegui said.

“It is stronger, very demanding, but in the same way we love to be here.

Brazil midfielder Lucas Paqueta scores against Paraguay

Brazil midfielder Lucas Paqueta scores against Paraguay (EPA)

“The environment the fans are able to create is very special. You cannot compare (it with other leagues) because it is the best competition in the world.”

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