After West Ham United made an incredible nine new additions to the squad, totalling over £25m in expenditure, one man has already proven in the early stages of the season to be one of the bargain buys of this transfer window.
In his first three games for the Hammers, Cheikhou Kouyate has been outstanding for the Upton Park outfit, and with a price tag of £7m, the applauds for this talented signing have to go to the owners, David Gold and David Sullivan.
Part of the Senegal national squad for the 2012 Olympic games in London, Kouyate had played most of his football in Belgium, starting off at FC Brussels before making the move Belgian champions Anderlecht. 145 appearances later, the now 24-year-old made the dream move of playing in the English Premier League and secured a move to east London. Despite losing two of the three Premier league games he has played in, Kouyate is already a fans’ favourite, and is sure to get better as the campaign progresses.
Comparisons are being made regarding Kouyate and former Arsenal and Inter Milan stalwart Patrick Vieira, which begs the question, why did Arsene Wenger pass the chance to sign the powerful midfielder? Arsenal were linked with Kouyate on a number of occasions, and ever since Alex Song left the Emirates stadium – a player who has, coincidently, joined the Hammers on a season long loan deal from FC Barcelona – the added bite in midfield is the key ingredient missing, which could have made the difference in the Gunners winning the Premier League title.
However, this is not Wenger’s philosophy, With Ramsey, Wilshere and Arteta in midfield, the composure, awareness and skill from all these players is tremendous, but with no one to break play up. Wenger thinks blooding young attacking talent with a certain flair is the way forward, which is, perhaps, why every year a fourth place finish is all they can achieve.
Blessed with power, strength, agility and drive, Kouyate can form a formidable partnership with Song and Mark Noble in the heart of the Hammers’ midfield. With both Song and Kouyate at the club, this is the reason why the latter’s fellow countryman, Mohammed Diame left the club to join Steve Bruce at Hull City. The playing style of the midfield are all very similar, and after getting Diame on a free transfer three years ago the chance of a profit on a player in the final year of his contract was tempting.
Kouyate, who can also play as a makeshift centre back, is undoubtedly the reason why Diame left the capital, and probably for the best aswell. However, if he keeps putting performances like he did against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the season and against Crystal Palace, then its certain the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea will all be looking to lure him away from Upton Park next season.
Once more the price tag is bound to rocket to dizzying heights and will have to pay more than double for the £7m price West Ham paid for him. With a move to the Olympic Stadium in two years imminent, a strong plan is in place ahead of the move to Stratford, based on player recruitment.