Upon becoming West Ham’s first new signing of the summer requirement period – a time that was designed to reshape the team into a far more adaptable outfit that didn’t just rely on long-balls up to Andy Carroll – Mauro Zarate’s arrival was greeted with a great deal of excitement and sensation over what the South American could potentially do in the Premier League.
Previous spells at Lazio, Inter Milan, and of course Birmingham City when the two Dave’s were in charge at St. Andrew’s, highlighted Zarate as an extremely gifted player. On his day the technical striker was seemingly capable of incredible feats, but as it was his supposed inconsistency that had so far held the Argentinian back, question marks still surrounded the new Hammers no.10.
With Big Sam rather unceremoniously sending him off to Loftus Road on loan earlier this season however, the former Serie A star hasn’t exactly had the best of times since returning to the Premier League.
Whilst there is still time for Mauro Zarate to re-stake his claim at Upon Park though, does the striker have any meaningful future at West Ham beyond this season, or has his time in the east end seemingly come to an abrupt end?
The majority of West Ham fans would largely hope that Allardyce, should he still remain in charge by the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign, finds it in his heart to give Zarate another chance. As he arrived from Velez Sarsfield after reportedly paying off his own contract in order to finance the deal – it seemed that the West Ham chairmen had really sourced themselves a gem in their new South American striker.
His opening goal against Crystal Palace not only highlighted just how much of an asset the no.10 could be, but the overall performance offered from Zarate that day gave West Ham that all important foundation to start finding some true form for the rest of the season. He may have only recorded one other finish this campaign – a rather lucky strike against Everton at Goodison Park – but when you consider how little faith Sam Allardyce has actually placed in the former Lazio man, his overall contribution really hasn’t been that bad.
Despite beginning this season with real style and conviction, West Ham have subsequently lacked a great deal of form and confidence since the turn of the year. The club’s post-Christmas slide may have something to do with the team’s incredibly tough run of fixtures of late – but perhaps rather inconveniently for Allardyce – the run also coincides with Mauro Zarate being missing from the squad.
The Argentinian is simply the best technical striker on our books at the moment. For all Diafra Sakho’s goal-poaching abilities, Andy Carroll’s undeniable strength on the air, and Enner Valencia’s pace and unpredictability – none of the aforementioned names are able to control the ball as well as Mauro Zarate.
Valencia in particular has come under a great deal of fire for his loose touch of late, and perhaps if the Ecuadorian hadn’t cost West Ham in the region of £12million this summer, people would eventually concede that Zarate is in-fact the better option.
Having said all of this however, the skilful striker’s distinct lack of game time with QPR doesn’t exactly shine Zarate’s case in the most convincing light. An apparent lack of fitness has reportedly been the cause of his current plight at Loftus Road, and as the relegation-fearing strugglers where even said to have wanted him off their books this January, Big Sam may have had reason to let him jump ship after all.
As Mauro Zarate has certainly showed glimpses of what he could be offering this current West Ham team at the moment though, it simply seems as waste to have him at another club. Surely it’s the manager’s job to get the very best out of his players – and perhaps with a more positive and creative new boss in the dug-out at Upton Park next season – West Ham’s talented forward can finally start to settle down and do the business for the for the team.
If such an outcome can eventually become realised, the Hammers will certainly be looking a great deal stronger with a fit and firing Mauro Zarate on board.