Enner Valencia signed for West Ham during the latest transfer window – but there’s good reason to believe the World Cup star won’t cut it in the Premier League, and specifically at West Ham.
Valencia signed from Mexican club Pachuca for a reported fee of £12million. There’s a case to be made that joining for a large fee (relative to West Ham of course) will put too much pressure on the head of Valencia. Generally when West Ham spend large fees, the player won’t return the favour with big performances.
Savio Nsereko was signed for £9million aged just 19 and he went down in West Ham history as the biggest waste of money in their history – he made just 10 appearances (only 1 start) and moved onto Fiorentina without a goal. Even looking at West Ham’s current record-signing you can see another example of not fulfilling the transfer fee, as since signing on a permanent deal Andy Carroll has spent the majority of the time in hospital.
Of course there is no guaranteeing that a large fee will damage a player’s career, but West Ham are certainly building a convincing portfolio. To date, Valencia has made two substitute appearances in the Premier League and was awarded his first start for the Hammers in the Capital One Cup defeat to Sheffield United.
One thing in particular stood out in this short amount of time – how lost Valencia looks playing in West Ham’s system. You’d be forgiven by thinking that all West Ham players look out of place in the current system bar Andy Carroll, but Valencia more than most. He played 120 minutes versus Sheffield United and didn’t do anything of note, similar to his substitute appearances. Sam Allardyce noted his impressive aerial ability despite being a ‘petite’ player, but he is certainly not a target man. He jumps up very high and is then manoeuvred out of the way by defenders as they then clear it away, and when you play as a striker for West Ham, you need to adore winning headers.
Fellow new forward signings Mauro Zarate and Diafra Sakho have both already opened their West Ham accounts. Zarate ran the show versus Crystal Palace and Sakho started alongside Valencia versus Sheffield United, scoring the Hammers’ only goal of the game. The confidence that is generated from scoring so early in a new career move is undeniably huge and Valencia may have missed that opportunity. He is of course yet to start a Premier League game but I don’t fancy his chances of scoring in Allardyce’s current system.
Valencia was undoubtably very impressive at the World Cup and Big Sam tried to convince West Ham fans that they had been scouting him prior to the competition, but I find that extremely hard to believe.
A 24-year-old playing in the Mexican league is not a normal scouting mission for any Premier League club, let alone West Ham who rarely look further than Europe. I therefore believe that Valencia was signed after just three appearances for a World Cup inflation fee – not great business. I’m not entirely sure that Sam Allardyce was the man behind the move. I would suggest it was the club’s co-owner David Sullivan pulling the strings, as it’s safe to say Valencia doesn’t fit Allardyce’s general player mould.
Valencia won’t live up to his price tag and it is through no fault of his own. He won’t be as bad as Savio but he, worryingly, won’t be as effective as Andy Carroll.
And that’s saying something.