When Nene first joined up with the Hammers after the closing of the January transfer window, the Brazilian’s arrival at Upton Park was hardly met with a great deal of excitement.
As fans, such a last minute signing simply seemed all too familiar to us – a supposed has-been of a 33-year-old who would likely not see much first team action, under a manager who seemingly never wanted him at the club in the first place.
Rather than Sam Allardyce, this particular transfer seemed to have ‘David Sullivan’ written all over it – and as we all know what happened to the likes of Mauro Zarate, Ravel Morrison and even a certain Wellington Paulista after they moved to the east end in similarly split circumstances – the future of Nene in the claret & blue remains murky at best.
So then, whilst the aging star may not have featured much so far during his brief stint with the Hammers, will the Brazilian simply go down as just another foreign import who has failed to make an impression at West Ham, or does Nene potentially offer an exciting outlet for the remainder of the 2014/15 campaign?
Perhaps the player’s finest career moment came in the 2011/12 season where he, along with current Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, finished the Ligue 1 campaign as joint top goal-scorer. The pair ended with 21 goals each that year – and as Nene was operating largely from the midfield for PSG back then – such a relatively recent achievement should be given fair consideration.
The former Parc des Princes favourite is an attack minded player who usually does his thing just behind the strikers, or sometimes out wide on the flanks. From his time in Ligue 1, Nene became known as creative force within the team as well as a man capable of scoring some really class goals.
He has a certain composure on the ball that is scarcely matched within West Ham’s current squad, an eye for goal and desire to shoot that Hammers fans largely take to in most cases – and in true South American style – the Brazilian is also renowned for his expertise on set pieces.
Just think back to his brief cameo against Crystal Palace last month. If the midfielder’s near perfect curler from outside of the box had just about crept in the net instead of harshly smacking the post in that match, the final outcome really could have been different.
Admittedly, at 33-years-old the player himself simply isn’t at the top of his game anymore. This categorically was a signing made on the cheap with the club’s restricted finances clearly in mind, but ultimately in the grand scheme of things, Nene is just the kind of player Sam Allardyce should be looking to at the moment.
However, even in the club’s current shortage of attacking first team talent, Big Sam just doesn’t seem to want to place his faith in the latest addition to his squad.
Kevin Nolan has inevitably found himself with yet another almost guaranteed spot in the starting XI, Matt Jarvis has been given the nod a couple of times of late despite producing more than his fair share of indifferent performances this season, and even Carlton Cole – the player who was deemed to be no longer good enough at the start of last season – has seemingly got in ahead of West Ham’s newly acquired Brazilian.
Alongside the likes of Stewart Downing and Morgan Amalfitano in the final third of the pitch though, with Alex Song in place to provide his usual ammunition of well measured through-balls, it would be more than fair to suggest that West Ham would transform into a much more formidable attacking outlet with Nene on board. The potential in such a change of approach should be given a chance at the very least.
As this is Sam Allardyce we are talking about however, such an outcome will likely never happen. The man is simply too stubborn. We’ve all been through this kind of thing before with the former Bolton and Blackburn boss after all – when the likes of Antonio Nocerino and Pablo Armero were simply not given a fair crack at the whip last season because of the supposed un-droppable form of both Matt Taylor and George McCartney.
No, the signing of Nene just doesn’t look like it’s going to have much of an impact for the club in the remainder of this season, yet if Allardyce finally gives the go-ahead for the Brazilian to start a match for once, the results really could be more entertaining than what has been rather unceremoniously offered up of late.