When Sam Allardyce was given the green light to continue at Upton Park last Tuesday, he immediately started planning for the upcoming season.
This included identifying players he wanted, wasting no time in setting his sights on Argentinean forward Mauro Zarate, and a three-year deal has now been completed. Various press reports are claiming that he has signed for the Hammers on a free transfer.
So, with this in mind, West Ham fans will want to know more about their new signing.
Zarate is a 27-year-old, accomplished forward who normally plays through the centre but can also operate on the left wing.
Most recently Zarate has been enjoying a second spell at the club where he started his career, Argentine Primera División side Velez Sarsfield, based in Buenos Aires. In his first spell at the club he represented Argentina as an under-20 international.
It looks as though West Ham are getting a proven goal scorer, as he scored 29 goals in just 18 games when he returned to Velez in 2012.
After leaving his home country for the first time in 2008, Zarate signed for Qatari side Al Sadd, but soon after was shipped out on loan to Birmingham City, ironically then owned by David Gold and David Sullivan.
One might think that, after the board stated last week that they would have more input in the club’s future transfer dealings, that they might have influenced Allardyce when the possibility of signing Zarate arose.
Zarate had limited impact at St. Andrews, only scoring four goals in 14 appearances, and the club were relegated at the end of that season.
After Birmingham’s relegation he was loaned to Lazio and initially was very successful. He featured in 36 games that season, scoring an impressive 12 goals.
The management at Lazio obviously rated the player highly and persuaded the hierarchy to part with €20million to transfer him from Al Sadd. However, his goal scoring record suffered, scoring just 12 more goals in 68 appearances.
His time in Italy was not without incident. At Lazio, he was involved with a section of the club’s hard-core support when he was photographed making a fascist salute at one of Lazio’s games. He was charged, but pleaded ignorance of what the gesture meant.
I hope West Ham now have a better legal team than they did when Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano arrived in East London, because Zarate’s transfer to Lazio was also judged to have breached third party ownership rules, which later saw the club fined and the president suspended. We don’t want to go down that road again given that we have had problems in the past of signing players that carry a fair amount of baggage with them.
Many of his family are involved in South American football in some capacity and it turns out that his older brother and former Argentina international Sergio is his agent.
After his period at Lazio he then moved across Italy for another loan spell, this time at Inter Milan, but his goal scoring record hit another barron spell, only managing two goals in 22 outings.
His second spell at Velez Sarsfield has been very successful and his goals helped the team win the Primera Division in 2012/13.
Throughout the last campaign it was clear that Allardyce’s side were desperately short of firepower and, given that Zarate has had such an impressive record in his homeland, I believe he could be just the man West Ham are looking for, particularly as he has experience of English top-flight football.
Big Sam has been told to play a more attacking style of football so, with both Zarate and Andy Carroll in the same tea,m he will have those more attacking options open to him that should help him win the fans over.