West Ham’s most expensive summer recruit, Enner Valencia, has enjoyed a steady start to life in the Premier League but the best is still to come from the striker.
The Ecuador international burst onto the scene at the World Cup in the summer scoring three goals in as many matches. In total he has 11 goals in 17 appearances for his national side and this record is what brought to light his raw talent.
A host of clubs wanted to sign him but the Hammers came out on top, paying £12 million for the then Pachuca forward – he scored 18 goals in 23 matches while in Mexico – although he has not quite replicated his scoring prowess in east London.
Fellow newbie Diafra Sakho has stolen the limelight from Valencia by outperforming him in almost every aspect.
The Senegalese forward has scored seven goals in ten Premier League appearances, compared to Valencia’s three strikes in 13. Valencia’s goals have been more spectacular and he has demonstrated he has fantastic ability, but Sakho certainly looks the more lethal at present.
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Valencia has, though, created one more assist than his strike partner (2), but Sakho has created more chances (10).
As a pair they were emphatic in the early stages of the campaign, but the return of Andy Carroll means one of them has had to be dropped and it is looking like Valencia will be the one sacrificed.
Fight for place
In the Hammers recent 3-1 victory over Swansea, Carroll and Valencia started the match up top, however, the Ecuadorian struggled to link up with the big man which led to him being replaced at half-time. Sakho came on and immediately made a difference, latching on to Carroll’s flicks and making life difficult for the defenders.
It seems that Carroll’s place in the side is guaranteed so long as he remains fit, which means Valencia will need to prove that he can connect with the striker and be more effective than the impressive Sakho, who started the last match against Sunderland.
Best to come
Valencia’s chance to shine will be in January as Sakho will be on African Cup of Nations duty so it will be the perfect time for the striker to prove his worth and potentially keep the Hammers in European contention.
A run of matches should help him find his goalscoring form and with the most creative Premier League player at present – Stewart Downing – sitting behind him plenty of chances are sure to come his way.
Valencia has proven for his country that he is a lethal finisher and an expert at sniffing out goals, it is just a matter of time until he starts firing consistently in the claret and blue of West Ham.