Enner Valencia has not had the impact in the Premier League that many expected following his £12.5 million summer move to West Ham.
The Ecuador international built up quite a reputation at the 2014 World Cup and looked like a real goal-getter in Brazil, however after 24 Hammers appearances he has just five to his name.
Valencia has shown glimpses of supreme ability, though, most recently in the 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace where his second-half display – and goal – was the only positive for Sam Allardyce to take out of the dreadful derby day.
The 25-year-old has great pace and desire whenever he plays and against the Eagles he showed he had the quality to go with it, where on other days it has been lacking. Not only did he score a fantastic strike from outside the penalty area, he hassled, harried, ran the channels, linked up with his team-mates and was generally the heartbeat of the side in the second period.
He also nearly scored a second with an absolute rocket from 30 yards that Julian Speroni somehow kept out. Valencia certainly likes, and is capable of scoring from, a shot from distance. His screamer against Hull City is the stand-out moment of his maiden season, but his all-round performance against Palace was as good as he’s been.
On the whole he has not been very impressive for West Ham and out of their summer recruits he’s probably sixth – behind Alex Song, Diafra Sakho, Aaron Cresswell, Carl Jenkinson and Cheikhou Kouyate – in having the biggest impact in the side, which considering his fee, is not great.
As this is his first term in English football his lack of consistency can perhaps be understood with him still finding his feet and adapting to the pace and intensity of the Premier League. But, he needs to start producing on a regular basis if his West Ham career is to truly take off.
It may seem ridiculous to question the quality of Valencia when it has been rumoured that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has taken a liking to the striker.
There is no doubt that Valencia has tremendous ability, but without consistency it isn’t worth much and I can’t imagine the Blues would take a gamble on a player so new to this level of football.
If he keeps performing like he did against Palace, though, he will be sure to attract further interest and with Mourinho’s men visiting the Boleyn Ground on Wednesday evening the stage is set for Valencia to shine.
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