Just over two years ago, West Ham pulled off something of a coup in signing Mohamed Diame from Wigan Athletic in order to boost the Hammers’ midfield upon returning to the top flight.
The Senegal international joined on a free transfer with West Ham beating the likes of Liverpool to secure his signature. However, despite the hype surrounding Diame, he has now recently left to join Hull City for a fee believed to be around £3.5 million. The transfer prompted a very mixed reaction from the fans; was it right to sell Diame in the prime of his career or was it a move that suited both parties?
Mohamed Diame’s debut season for West Ham was one to remember. Playing in his preferred central midfield role, his determination and powerful displays became hugely popular amongst the Boleyn faithful. He will be most fondly remembered for his second half substitute appearance against Chelsea, which probably the best substitution Sam Allardyce has made as West Ham manager to date. Diame came on and changed the game, providing West Ham with a physical presence in midfield that Rafa Benitez’s Chelsea couldn’t handle.
Eventually, Diame chipped in with a superb 86th minute strike that put West Ham in front before the less-popular Modibo Maiga wrapped up the 3-1 victory. Diame was always a player capable of the spectacular, an excellent curling effort against Manchester United with his left foot proved that the midfielder possessed a lot of talent and he quickly became a fan favourite.
At the pinnacle of Diame’s West Ham career, you would not have backed his next move to be Hull City. However, due to a number of misfortunes and one rather big mistake, Diame’s days as a West Ham player looked numbered. The rapid decline of Diame occurred when the player was often forced to play on the wing, often making way for Matt Taylor to play in central midfield alongside Mark Noble.
Although Diame gave his best efforts for West Ham in those games, his rather overbearing figure hugging the touchline just didn’t look natural. It is still a bit of a mystery as to why Diame was shoved out onto the wing, but one of his biggest flaws was often overrunning the ball and losing possession. Perhaps Allardyce thought that Diame was less inclined to lose the ball in dangerous areas on the wing.
However, although the team lost that particular weakness to Diame’s game, West Ham also lost their biggest presence in midfield, something that was really missed last season. Once Diame was pushed out of position, he battled with a number of muscular injuries that prevented him from being involved in first team action. But when he returned, Diame was again forced to play out wide.
The longer this continued, the more Diame’s attitude began to worsen. West Ham fans would often complain about abject performances where the big man looked lacklustre and lazy. Couple that with the comments he made about earning a move away from the club and the once brilliant projection of Diame as a West Ham player suddenly began to rapidly diminish. It all went downhill when Diame claimed he wanted to move to a bigger club.
“I don’t hide it, I’m ambitious and I want to join a top six side. I am 26 years old and it’s time to take that step,” he said.
This caused outrage amongst West Ham fans due to his rather blunt disloyalty to the club. What made things even worse was his contract demands. Diame supposedly asked for an increase of £40,000, making his wages total to around £80,000 per week, something that was rather unachievable for a player as erratic as Diame. From that moment, Diame’s position as a West Ham player looked increasingly weaker by the second. Despite the owners’ efforts to negotiate a new contract and to remove the rather low £3.5m buy-out clause, the player and the club could not come to an agreement so cashing in on the player looked like the best option.
Fast forward to the start of this season and Diame wasn’t even getting into the starting eleven. He was often thrown on as a substitute with only a quarter of the game remaining and his performances were doing little to change that. The inclusion of new signings Cheikou Kouyate and Alex Song spelt the end for the former fan’s favourite, with his move to Hull City occurring on transfer deadline day. Upon securing his move to Hull, Diame voiced his opinion once more, aiming the reason for his departure at the way he was being handled tactically,
“At West Ham I was shunted around all the different positions, I remember one time I had to play as a striker. That was not good for my career. I wanted to play for a club that is high in the Premier League table.
“At least with Hull I will be certain of playing in my favoured role. I should have left West Ham a long time ago, as with them I wasn’t permitted to play in central midfield. You lose your bearings when you get shunted around all the different positions,” he said.
To be fair to the midfielder, he has a point in terms of being played out of position. Diame’s strongest position is in central midfield and I believe that he will thrive at Hull City if he is deployed in that particular role.
Although this may be the case, the little appreciation for his time spent at Upton Park will hurt the fans. This ultimately concludes that it was right to cash in on a player who lost his way towards the end of his West Ham career. However, I am slightly concerned about the almost inevitable return of the 2012 Mo Diame.
Diame is in line to make his debut for Hull on Monday, lining up against the team that sold him only a matter of days ago. Hopefully, after the game, fans will be celebrating a brilliant performance from Alex Song, rather than cursing the impact made by a man who was once so brilliant for West Ham United.