Five of the starting line-up that beat Crystal Palace on Tuesday night were players West Ham United have signed since the appointment of David Moyes. One, though, in Tomas Soucek, will make the London Stadium a hotbed for vultures to pick apart.
Soucek was the absolute star of the show as the Hammers comfortably beat the Eagles 3-2, on a night the scoreline would have been far wider had Michail Antonio not squandered a hat-trick’s worth of chances to fire past Vincente Guaita.
Instead, the Irons were indebted to Soucek for guiding them to glory over their London rivals with a brace as he took his tally for the season to seven, with what has become a trademark late run and a powerful header from the Czech Republic international.
Soucek does not do anything overly fancy or try to go on a dazzling 40-yard dribble past half a dozen players like a stereotypical Brazilian in their prime. Instead, the 25-year-old excels at anticipating where a chance is going to come from and pre-empting the path of the ball to ensure he glides in, often unnoticed, to the right place at the right time.
His ability to reach the ball at the optimum moment against Palace left Moyes rightfully impressed with his £19m summer capture, who the former Manchester United boss was never going to let leave the London Stadium after his initial loan spell for any reason other than relegation.
“He has done brilliantly since he came to the country, it was this time last year when we signed him, and to come in and hit the ground running in the Premier League is really difficult at any time,” said Moyes, via quotes by football.london, following Tuesday’s win.
“I can’t put him in a Steven Gerard mould but midfielders who can get into the box and score goals is a great thing and Tomas is that. He’s a wee bit old-fashioned in many ways but his attitude and commitment to the team is second to none. He is a joy to work with.”
But for how long Moyes can enjoy working with Soucek remains to be seen, as the Czech Republic international’s exploits will be sure to make the London Stadium a hotbed for vultures to circle and not just those looking to sign the supposed cherry of Frank Lampard’s eye Declan Rice.
Reports have already emerged in recent months suggesting Bayern Munich and a clutch of European outfits are now monitoring Soucek’s situation following his sublime first year in claret and blue, as he went from an unknown quantity to a pivotal part of a top Premier League side.
West Ham would be nine points worse off were it not for the goals that Soucek has scored in the league this season, with the £27m-rated beast’s strike in defeat to Manchester United the only effort to have not returned a win or a draw thus far.
Soucek offers far more than just goals, too, with Vladimir Coufal (45) and Rice (38) the only members of Moyes’ squad to have recorded a greater number of successful tackles (37) in the top-flight this term, per WhoScored.
Rice is also the only one to intercept the ball more often (39) than Soucek (29), as the pair sniff out danger before it can threaten Lukasz Fabianski’s goal and dictate how West Ham operate with the second (975) and third-most (808) total passes, only behind Aaron Cresswell (984).
Moyes should fittingly be lauded for his masterclass in polishing the diamond that Soucek has become in his year in east London, but the midfielder he lauds for being “brilliant” will soon put the Scot’s resolve to the test when offers no doubt come flooding in thick and fast from Europe’s elite.
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