West Ham’s most expensive acquisition in the summer, Enner Valencia, has been cast in the shadow of his new striker partner Diafra Sakho so far this season.
The duo have been a revelation for the Hammers, both hitting the ground running in English football but it is Sakho who has stolen the limelight with six goals in six starts for the club.
Valencia has two goals to his name thus far but as the season draws on we will begin to see the best of the Ecuador international and it would not be a huge surprise to see him challenging for the golden boot come the end of the campaign.
Valencia’s finishing prowess was brought to the world’s attention during the 2014 World Cup in the summer where he netted three goals in three appearances. His record at club level is extremely impressive, too, playing in the Mexican league he scored 18 goals in 23 matches.
However his lack of experience at the top levels of the game is perhaps the reason why the striker is under-rated in a league that contains the likes of Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa. I’m not suggesting he is in the same bracket as those players but he can certainly give them a run for their money in terms of goalscoring and work ethic.
Valencia is a lethal finisher and the two goals he has scored in the Premier League have given us a glimpse of what he is capable of. His first strike came away at Hull, an absolute rocket from outside that box that gave the ‘keeper no chance, it was a truly sensational effort.
The second was away at Burnley, a goal much more like what we’d expect from Valencia, but nonetheless equally as impressive as his first. A cross came in from the right, which was just behind him, the striker adjusted magnificently with a great leap to powerfully divert the header into the back of the net.
These are goals of extreme quality and we can expect to see a lot more of them from the 24-year-old in the coming months.
Valencia and Sakho have been better than anyone could have predicted since their arrival at Upton Park and the pair will only improve with experience. Not only have they scored goals but they have displayed extreme desire and the work rate they put in to every match has been a major factor to their success.
By putting in the effort and demonstrating a hunger and enthusiasm for the game they are reaping the rewards. Mario Balotelli is a prime example at the other end of the spectrum – no desire, movement or effort and as a result he is a scapegoat for Liverpool’s sluggish start to the season. He can’t buy a Premier League goal at the moment but if he was to take a leaf out of the West Ham strikers book and put himself about a bit, something might fall his way.
Valencia and Sakho combined cost less than Balotelli – £16 million – yet the Italian was regarded as a steal while the Hammers were said to be taking a massive gamble on unproven players. Eight games into the season and West Ham’s pair have seven goals between them, Balotelli has zero.