KIERAN GILL: West Ham will continue to stick by Lucas Paqueta as the FA’s slow and secretive probe rumbles on… losing their £52m Brazilian Magnifico to a ban or rival club would be a major blow, but all the Irons can do is wait


The Football Association’s gambling investigation into Lucas Paqueta is as painstakingly secretive as it is painfully slow, and it is now three months since Mail Sport broke the news that West Ham’s Brazilian Magnifico was being investigated by investigators.

They interviewed him in September. In October they examined his cell phone. Now in November, the FA is giving no indication of when we can expect an outcome – good or bad – from their investigation into the winning yellow card bets, which raised suspicions.

Sources say the Brazilian Football Federation is frustrated at the speed of the investigation into a player who has long proclaimed his innocence. Their request for an update ahead of Fernando Diniz’s latest selection announcement was unsatisfactory. The lack of progress made them feel like they had to keep their promise not to use it until this messy situation is resolved.

Diniz last week described Paqueta as ‘one of the best of his generation’, adding that he can only hope they have an answer come the next international break, when they play England at Wembley Stadium in March.

There is growing confidence in Brazil that investigators are struggling to link anything incriminating to the 26-year-old, whose flair and freedom for West Ham has dazzled the Premier League this season, although there will be no celebrations until the verdict is announced.

The FA’s investigation into Lucas Paqueta continues with no clear resolution in sight

The Brazilian midfielder has become an integral part of West Ham’s squad so far this season

There are worse places to be in exile than Marbella, although Paqueta has holidayed there with his family. Still, the Brazilian’s thoughts may have wandered to Rio de Janeiro, and not just because he was wearing the national team shorts while working out in the hotel gym.

Rio is where he would otherwise have been this week. Brazil will face Argentina at the Estadio do Maracana without him. Their sixth 2026 World Cup qualifier was played in his absence during this investigation. Paqueta will watch from a distance as Bruno Guimaraes and the other Premier League representatives line up in yellow.

Unlike Diniz, West Ham manager David Moyes has no qualms about continuing to play against Paqueta, having chosen to stand by his player from the start. Club insiders say they are impressed by his day-to-day performances, not least the influence he has in the big games.

Before facing Nottingham Forest in the Premier League, Paqueta texted his wife Duda: ‘Vou fazer gol pra voce hoje.’ Translated to: ‘I’m going to score for you today.’ He did, following on from his Europa League winner against Olympiacos three days earlier.

Helped to West Ham’s £51m signing from Lyon in August 2022 by the agent acting on behalf of the club, Barry Silkman, the staff have now gotten to know both the person and the player. They describe Paqueta as a family man and religious, with him and his wife recently unveiling matching “one flesh” tattoos from Genesis 2:24.

At the start of this season, Paqueta’s head was naturally turned by a proposed move to Manchester City. Sources say Moyes promised the player he would not stand in his way, and in the meantime would only give him his best in the season opener at Bournemouth. The yellow card Paqueta received in the 1-1 draw is one of the warnings that sparked the FA’s investigation, which stood in the way of that tempting transfer.

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The Hammers and David Moyes remain loyal to the 26-year-old star (pictured), while Brazil have vowed not to select him for international duty until the FA’s investigation is completed.

Instead of playing internationally, Paqueta shared photos from his holiday in Spain

Manchester City and Pep Guardiola (above) came close to signing Paqueta this summer

West Ham realize they will ultimately be tested on their prized playmaker, especially once this investigation is no longer hanging over his head. The FA has declined to say whether the contract will be completed in January, although Mail Sport previously revealed Paqueta’s contract contains an £85m release clause that comes into effect next summer.

It is a measure of the player’s popularity that Hobbs Memorabilia has seen a remarkable response since announcing their upcoming December 5 signing with one of football’s mavericks.

It’s not cheap – prices for signed shirts range from £199.99 to £650.99, complete with photographic proof and certificate of authenticity – but there have been willing buyers who have jumped at the chance to own the autograph of the man who Jarrod Bowen’s 2023 winner assisted Europa Conference League Final in Prague.

Losing Paqueta to a rival or a ban would be a blow for West Ham. Three months later all they can do is wait for word from the FA.


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