One name which has been strangely absent from this summer’s transfer gossip columns is that of Ilan Araujo Dall’Igna. The Brazilian striker is currently a free agent having been released by West Ham United in June. The former Saint-Etienne player made a telling impact during his time in east London, scoring crucial goals in their relegation run-in. He told Sky Sports, “I did well in the Premier League and I was hoping to continue where I left off next season, but West Ham had other ideas, that’s football.” Hammers fans feared their loss would be a rival’s gain as Bolton Wanderers reportedly registered an interest in the striker. Ilan remains unattached as the Premier League season begins this Saturday. Many clubs could do worse business in this period of relative austerity than sign up this intelligent forward.
West Ham fans were justifiably concerned that Gianfranco Zola allegedly signed the forward in January without having seem him play. The player who has made three appearances for Brazil was available as a free transfer after Saint-Etienne terminated his contract. Having made his name with Atletico Paranaense in Brazil he moved to France in 2004 and amassed an impressive goal tally at Sochaux. He moved to AS Saint-Etienne in 2006 and initially adapted well, scoring goals including a beauty which earned him the Ligue 1 Goal of the Year award a year later. The player diminished in the club’s attacking plans and was allowed to leave prematurely in January. He did not have long to wait as he was offered a short term contract by West Ham and handed the number 9 shirt.
During his last full season at the French club the player starred in their successful fight against relegation and was accordingly well-accustomed to West Ham’s predicament. Ilan scored on his debut for the club in their away loss to Burnley. When a ball into the box was missed by Brian Jensen, the Brazilian slid in at the far post to direct it goal wards. It was a simple finish but one delivered by a player of cool temperament. A frustrating period followed for the striker who was customarily left on the bench or used in unfamiliar positions. His fantastic diving header at Goodison Park halted Everton’s seven match-winning streak and West Ham’s seven match-losing streak. Connecting with Julien Faubert’s enticing cross Ilan directed an unstoppably powerful header past Tim Howard to earn a 2-2 draw. It was a header deserving of comparisons with Yordan Letchkov’s winner against Germany at the 1994 World Cup.
This morale boosting contribution was followed by netting the only goal of a scrappy, attritional home game against Sunderland. It was a striker’s finish as he instinctively flicked Carlton Cole’s nod down into the net. Ilan scored once more for West Ham in their decisive home tie against Wigan. Bereft of delivery, Ilan dropped deep to receive the ball and spread the play before making surging, astute runs into the box. This approach paid dividends as Ilan managed to level the scores in the first half. Despite showing an impressive knack of finding space in the box and finishing clinically Ilan remains a free agent.
Why are Premier League sides searching for value in the transfer market ignoring this natural finisher? His absence from transfer proceedings may be due to comments he gave to a Brazilian newspaper while at West Ham. He claimed Zola had, “lost control of the team” and especially, “to players who speak Italian.” Few clubs would welcome the emergence of such unwanted headlines but Ilan steadfastly argued that his comments made months earlier were incorrectly translated. The player was contrite and the fans forgave their latest South American star to guide them to safety. Premier League clubs wishing to strengthen and diversify their attacking options may wish to consider Ilan before the transfer window closes.