West Ham’s Paqueta Wants End to Betting Probe to Revive $90M Man City Move

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Representatives of Brazilian soccer star Lucas Paqueta are hoping that an investigation into alleged gambling violations can be resolved within weeks. That’s so a $90 million move to EPL champion Manchester City can be resurrected over the summer, The Times of London reports.

West Ham’s Lucas Paqueta celebrates a goal during the 2022/23 EPL season, shortly before the Man City deal fell through. An ongoing investigation into FA betting violations is creating uncertainty around his future. (Image: Getty)

City agreed a deal in principle with the midfield playmaker’s current club, West Ham, in August 2023. But that was torpedoed by news that Paqueta was facing a probe by English soccer’s governing body, the Football Association (FA), into betting breaches.

City chiefs balked after hearing the investigation centered on claims of suspicious betting patterns in Brazil around yellow cards shown to Paqueta. But they remain interested in signing the player should he be exonerated.

Sketchy Bets

The FA investigation is believed to be focused on a yellow card Paqueta received for a late challenge on Aston Villa’s John Mcguin on March 12, 2023.

Sportsbooks reported that an unusual number of bets were placed on the player getting booked in that game.

Some of these bets were placed in Duque de Caxias, a city on Brazil’s Guanabara Bay. Paqueta is from Paqueta Island, a half-square-mile island in Guanabara Bay. Real name Lucas Tolentino Coelho de Lima, he adopted the name Paqueta as a tribute to his place of birth.

Meanwhile, some of the bets were also placed with Betway, West Ham’s jersey sponsor, which does not take bets from Brazil.

Paqueta hasn’t been accused of placing any of the bets, but those close to him are being investigated, according to The Times. The player denies any wrongdoing, knowledge, or involvement.

West Ham in Limbo

The West Ham board is also anxious for the investigation to conclude soon because the uncertainty is affecting the team’s own transfer plans for the summer. The cash from the potential sale would swell its war chest in the summer market and redefine its transfer strategy.

Meanwhile, a protracted investigation could leave the team scrambling to find a replacement for Paqueta if it concludes late in the transfer window. However, the FA has refused to comment on the status of the case.

Last year, the Brazilian was interviewed at least twice and agreed to allow investigators access to his phone.

The implication is that the FA is looking for evidence of spot-fixing. This relates to manipulating aspects of a game — the number of cards or corners, for example — rather than the outright result.

The practice is almost unheard of in elite soccer because stratospheric wages remove the financial incentive.

If found guilty, Paqueta could face a lifelong ban from the sport.

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