When a player leaves a football club the views of fans are inevitably polarised. For some he had more to offer while others will point to possible replacements or the financial benefits. This scenario occurred at the tail end of the transfer window at Upton Park when both Alessandro Diamanti and Fabio Daprela were sold to Serie A yoyo team, Brescia. The inconsistent Italian drew differing opinions from the supporters but the transfer of a young, promising defender who had impressed in a handful of appearances was met with utter bemusement. For the east London club this is far from a new problem as former players seemingly go from strength to strength.
Signed from Zurich based Grasshoppers last summer for £1 million, the Hammers sold Daprela last week for an undisclosed fee. The Swiss player who had a spell at Juventus as a youngster was highly rated. At just 19-years old the left-back was more authoritative when deputising for the injured Herita Ilunga than Jonathan Spector. He made his senior debut in the FA Cup third round tie against Arsenal earlier this year, giving an assured performance which showed his defensive and attacking capabilities. He impressed once more against Arsenal in the league, relishing the physical side of the contest and rampaging down the left flank.
Diamanti was another of last summer’s recruits, having been plucked newly promoted Serie A side Livorno. The brazen forward asserted his influence over penalties and all set pieces without hesitation. In doing so he illustrated his technical skill and from open play he was highly exciting to watch. In an arduous season that excitement did at times turn to exasperation when his tricks and long range efforts brought no reward. Yet for his inconsistency, he was hugely popular in some quarters and could undoubtedly change the course of a game with a piece of unexpected ingenuity. To the dismay of many, the club’s second highest scorer of last season was sold at a loss of £4 million.
West Ham have had a reputation as a selling club in recent times but there was an inescapability about the eventual departures of exceptional talents such as Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick. Barring Craig Bellamy’s switch to Manchester City, the club has not faced that concerted pressure to sell in the past few years. But players have consistently been sold at the wrong time. Paul Konchesky, now of Liverpool, was a reliable full-back who practised the basics. Defensive duties were paramount but his powerful left foot could have a telling impact, especially when he scored against his new employers in the 2006 FA Cup final. A disagreement with Alan Curbishley meant he was forced out in the summer of 2007.
Konchesky prospered at Craven Cottage where he was joined the following year by Bobby Zamora. Having been deemed surplus to requirements, it would now be challenging to find a fan who would not welcome him back to the Boleyn. Few supporters would have expected to see Konchesky, Zamora and John Pantsil in European action within a couple of years. Matthew Etherington is yet another who left the club despite having a huge amount to offer. Signed in January 2009 for £2 million he was in imperious form for Stoke last season. Invariably their man of the match, he showed energy, excellent wing play and varied his delivery into the box.
The list arguably continues as the club has even missed previous captain Lucas Neill who had leadership qualities and an aggressive, combative streak to his game. The club’s insistence on holding on to its core of Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole has been to the detriment of their transfer policy. Parker may rightly be considered untouchable but the relentless focus on this England quartet has distracted from arguments about the overall strength and balance of the team. The departure of Diamanti and Daprela may be evidence of this but with six new arrivals, it is time for the club to demonstrate that the balance of the squad has been addressed.
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