Since first emerging in the Premier League with the Hammers last summer, West Ham’s Diafra Sakho has certainly built himself a decent reputation within the English top-flight.
In fact, the recently discovered Upton Park favourite might even represent one of the most loved assets currently working under Slaven Bilic at the moment, despite his obvious lack of status when he originally found himself on these shores.
The determined 25-year-old initially arrived as a widely unknown hopeful – with the modest experience of playing for FC Metz in the French Ligue 2 firmly under his belt – yet now, the Senegalese front-man has defined himself as West Ham’s first choice striker in front of the likes of Andy Carroll and Mauro Zarate, even when both are fully fit for selection.
[ffc-gal cat=”west-ham” no=”5″]
The reliable sight of witnessing Diafra Sakho wheel away in celebration, with his arms firmly fixed in the traditional Hammers pose, has simply become part and parcel of watching West Ham in the modern era. The former Metz man – who incidentally cost his current employers in the region of £3.5million last summer – has scored two league goals so far this season, adding to his already impressive tally of 10 goals amounted at Upton Park during the previous campaign.
However, seeing as several up and coming foreign stars helplessly falter among the English top-flight once the honeymoon period inevitably ceases, is Sakho really a truly promising asset for the Hammers up-top, or is he just another average Premier League striker?
For those who simply don’t watch the 2013/14 Ligue 2 Player of the Year on a week-in-week out basis for West Ham – yes, Diafra Sakho could ultimately represent no more than an average striker. He seemingly lacks a great deal of technical ability in attacking positions, his range of passing isn’t incredible by any standard, and his overall prowess in one on one situations can certainly go either way on occasion.
The ex-Stade Saint-Symphorien favourite hasn’t exactly set the world alight on the international scene either. Despite being loosely involved with Senegal’s wider squad somewhat sporadically over the last season, the likes of Mame Biram Diouf and Sadio Mane have nonetheless sounded themselves out as the preferred options up-top for Aliou Cisse’s side.
Can Diafra Sakho truly be worthy of the recent praise when his counterparts from Stoke City and Southampton supposedly hold stronger reputations among their national set-up? Such a rather unceremonious status initially looks to have the word ‘average’ written all over it.
Yet for all the Hammers fans who have in-fact watched the former Metz striker’s overall level of output over the last twelve months or so, the final evaluation surrounding Diafra Sakho certainly remains far from average. The 25-year-old attacker may not be the most elegant player in the final third, but through his uncanny awareness in and around the opposition’s penalty area, Sakho often finds himself scoring very significant goals for his side.
This is a man who seems to possess that all important striker’s instinct when it really matters. His two league goals this season – away to Liverpool and Manchester City respectively – came at a time when Slaven Bilic’s team needed them most. When the Upton Park faithful require someone to get them out of trouble, Sakho is usually dependable – and that is something West Ham supporters won’t forget in a hurry.
The Hammers no. 15 arguably gives more for his side off the ball than on it, however. He seemingly never grows tired of applying a high line of pressure against the opposition, often comes back to help his teammates further down the pitch, and always runs the channels tirelessly in an attempt to win something valuable for his side.
Diafra Sakho therefore offers a great deal more than your average Premier League striker. What he admittedly lacks in sheer technicality and overall finesse, the Senegalese attacker more than makes up for with his work rate and desire to help the team. He seems to actually enjoy playing for West Ham in a way that is scarcely witnessed among most modern footballers in today’s game. In displaying such a strong level of loyalty to the cause, Hammers supporters will inevitably hold Sakho in the highest regard for some while to come.
Such highly valued traits ultimately remain somewhat of a rarity among the English top-flight nowadays – and when combined with the player’s undeniably efficient goal-scoring ability for West Ham – the Upton Park faithful certainly find themselves with a player to truly cherish on their hands.
The 2015/16 campaign simply remains a fantastic opportunity for the club with players like Diafra Sakho on board.